The approval rating of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has soared 15 points since January 1 to 72% of Russians supporting him.
Putin’s political opposition was already pretty dispirited, but the Crimean annexation has permitted Putin to crush the opposition in polling.
In fact, the Crimea annexation has split the opposition itself. Liberal anti-war groups are calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine, while leftist movements like the Left Front are joining nationalist forces to demand that Crimea be returned to Russia.
This split has allowed Putin to claim that an “absolute majority of Russians” supported the annexation of Crimean, while those who opposed it were “national traitors” acting on behalf of Western countries.