MOSCOW, November 19 (RIA Novosti) – The proportion of Russians who consider themselves patriots has dropped by eight percent since President Vladimir Putin first took office 13 years ago, according to a new survey released by the independent Levada Center pollster Tuesday.
Sixty-nine percent of respondents professed to be patriots in the poll held at the end of October, down from 77 percent in 2000.
The survey also found that Russians’ definition of patriotism has changed somewhat since the turn of the century.
The number of respondents who said patriotism meant “working or acting for the good of the country” dropped to 21 percent in 2013 from 35 percent in 2000.
Russians who defined the concept as “loving your country” held steady at just under 60 percent.
However, the proportion of people who said patriotism meant considering one’s own nation better than other countries increased slightly to 21 percent of respondents from 2000’s 17 percent.
The idea of national identity has been a point of focus for the Putin administration in recent years, as the government has struggled to define a modernized post-Soviet ideology amid clampdowns on political dissent and widespread public dissatisfaction with corruption and Russia’s loss of global influence.
Last year, Putin ordered the creation of a Directorate for Social Projects, which the Kremlin said would improve patriotic upbringing and strengthen the moral and spiritual foundations of Russian society.
Many respondents to the Levada Center poll (42 percent) said they had noticed an increase in government officials speaking about rising patriotism in Russia. However, only 24 percent of Russians said they had actually noticed an increase in patriotic sentiment among the population.
The survey of about 1,600 respondents was conducted on October 25-28 in 45 Russian regions. The margin of error was no higher than 3.4 percent.