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Levada’s latest One in four Russians have watched the ‘Putin’s Palace’ investigation, but a third of them think it’s fake

Source: Meduza
Alexander Nemenov / AFP / Scanpix / LETA

Twenty-six percent of Russians have watched Alexey Navalny’s “Putin’s Palace” investigation, but a third of them think it’s fake, according to a new survey from the independent Levada Center. The poll’s results showed that young people were not only more likely to have watched the video but were also more inclined to believe it. That said, 77 percent of respondents who had watched or heard of the investigation said it didn’t change their attitude toward Vladimir Putin.

More than a quarter (26 percent) of Russians have watched the “Putin’s Palace” investigation released by Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, says a new survey from the independent Levada Center

An additional 10 percent of Russians said that they hadn’t watched the investigation, but are familiar with its contents, while 32 percent had heard of it but didn’t know the details of the report. Thirty-one percent of respondents said they didn’t know about the investigation at all. 

Notably, the Levada Center’s survey identified a generational gap. The “Putin’s Palace” investigation was best known among young people — 37 percent of respondents in the age group 18 to 24 had watched it, compared to just 23 percent of those over the age of 55. 

That said, less than a fifth (17 percent) of those who had watched the film or had heard about it said they believe the story of “Putin’s Palace” to be true. More than a third of respondents (38 percent) felt the information in the film “resembles the truth” but found “its reliability difficult to assess.” Another third (33 percent) maintained that the investigation is fake. And yet again, there was a generational difference: 49 percent of respondents over the age of 55 believe the investigation is fake, versus just 11 percent of those between aged 18 and 24.

“Nearly a third of those surveyed (29 percent) believe that Vladimir Putin has never abused his power. Another 24 percent believe that even if such accusations were true, life [in Russia] got better under him [Putin]. Seventeen percent believe that Vladimir Putin is definitely guilty of abuses, and 25 percent [believe] that he is just as guilty as other high-ranking officials.” 

What’s more, only 17 percent of those who had watched or had heard of the film said it changed their attitude toward the president for the worse. The vast majority of respondents in this category — 77 percent — said it didn’t change their attitude toward Putin. 

Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation released its investigation into a billion-dollar palace supposedly built for Russian President Vladimir Putin on January 19. The luxury residence, located near the Black Sea resort town of Gelendzhik, was allegedly built through a corruption scheme linked to members of the president’s inner circle. Putin has denied that he or any of his relatives ever owned the “palace.” Ten days after the investigation aired, Russian billionaire and long-time Putin associate Arkady Rotenberg claimed ownership of the property and said that he plans to turn it into a hotel. 

The “Putin’s Palace” investigation has exceeded 110 million views on YouTube since its release. When the video hit 100 million views at the end of January, the research company Mediascope estimated the investigation’s audience at 21.2 million Russians over the age of 12 (that’s 17 percent of the population). At the same time, only 11.6 million people watched more than two minutes of the video, and only 3.4 million watched the entire thing. More than half of the video’s viewers (60 percent) were from large cities.  

Story by Grigory Levchenko

Translation by Eilish Hart

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