Skip to main content

New polling shows that Vladimir Putin and Alexey Navalny are Russia’s two most inspiring public figures

President Vladimir Putin and opposition politician Alexey Navalny are the two most inspiring public figures in Russia today, according to a new survey by the Levada Center, an independent polling agency.

1,608 respondents were given the following open-ended prompt: “Please name contemporary famous people who inspire you with their example and their active civic position.” The survey was carried out by phone in April 2020. The poll’s margin of error is 2.4 percent.

In total, 8 percent of respondents named Vladimir Putin as an inspiring public figure and 4 percent named Alexey Navalny. Third and fourth place went to Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and right-wing politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, with 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively. 

Contrary to his reputation as a youth icon, Navalny inspires middle-aged Russians most of all. Among respondents between the ages of 25 and 39, he and the president were both named as inspiring figures by 6 percent of people. Among Russians between the ages of 40 and 54, Navalny actually outscored Putin (6 percent to 5 percent). Respondents younger than 25 and older than 55 were less inspired by the anti-corruption star: only 2 percent of people in these demographics say Navalny is inspiring (whereas 9 percent and 11 percent, respectively, named Putin).

Sociologists at the Levada Center say younger respondents are less likely to be interested in politics and often name cultural and sports celebrities as their most inspiring figures. Social media stars like YouTubers and other various bloggers also top younger people’s lists.