A third of Russians (33 percent) believe the reports that opposition politician Alexey Navalny was poisoned, while more than half (55 percent) do not, says a new poll from the independent Levada Center.
Overall, 77 percent of respondents had heard about Navalny’s poisoning; 18 percent are following the development of the situation closely. A fifth of respondents (21 percent) felt sympathy upon hearing the news, while approximately the same number (19%) were bewildered. Nearly half of respondents (45 percent) didn’t experience any strong feelings about it.
Among those who believe that Navalny was poisoned, 30 percent believe the Russian authorities are behind it. Eight percent believe it was someone featured in his anti-corruption investigations and another eight percent believe Western intelligence services are responsible.
Asked about Navalny’s activities in general, 20 percent of Russians say they approve, 50 percent disapprove, and 18 percent had never heard of him.
Among those who have heard of Navalny, 31 percent are neutral towards him, 10 percent have respect for him, 8 percent have sympathy, and 10 percent dislike him. Another 14 percent said they couldn’t say anything good about him.
As the Levada Center recalls, when Navalny ran for mayor of Moscow in 2013, his approval rating was 6 percent and his negative approval rating was 35 percent. At the time, more than half of Russians hadn’t heard about Navalny.
On August 20, Alexey Navalny became violently ill aboard a flight from Tomsk to Moscow. Pilots made an emergency landing in Omsk, where Navalny was hospitalized and immediately placed in a medically induced coma. Two days later, he was transferred aboard an air ambulance to Berlin, where German specialists later concluded that he had been exposed to a Novichok-class nerve agent. Russian officials maintain that they have no evidence that Navalny was poisoned. He regained consciousness on September 7 and was discharged from the hospital on September 22, though his full rehabilitation is expected to take several more weeks.