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Russia's independent Levada Center says it won't publish new polling data until after the presidential election because of its ‘foreign agent’ status

The Levada Center, Russia’s largest independent polling organization, says it will refrain from publishing new sociological data during the presidential election (between December 2017 and March 2018), in light of the Justice Ministry’s decision to label the center a “foreign agent.” 

Since 2014, all foreign agents in Russia have been banned from working with individual candidates and “participating in election campaigns.” The Levada Center was added to the foreign-agent registry in 2016.

The organization says it is freezing all publications until after the presidential election to avoid potential fines, even though Russia’s federal laws don’t explicitly ban the publication of polling data by foreign agents.

According to the latest survey by the state-run Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM), roughly 77 percent of Russians plan to vote in the March election, and more than 81 percent say they will support Vladimir Putin’s re-election. Businessman Pavel Grudinin, representing the Communist Party, would win an estimated 7.6 percent of the vote, followed by 4.2 percent for LDPR head Vladimir Zhirinovsky.