Kremlin pollster suspends ratings reports

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A top Russian polling agency often cited by the state media said Monday it had suspended the publication of survey findings, a decision taken following a drop in Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's approval.

The Public Opinion Foundation (FOM), which is believed to have close ties to the Kremlin, did not explain its decision to keep future results from its weekly surveys available only to its clients.

"We continue to conduct surveys on a weekly basis, but the results are not being released to the public," an agency spokeswoman told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The agency last published survey findings on November 27, one week before Putin's ruling United Russia party clung on to its parliamentary majority in disputed elections that sparked street protests.

Putin's approval rating was then reported at 54.4 percent, a two-year low and a worrying sign for the powerful premier three months before he runs in a presidential election he had been expected to easily win in the first round.

© 2011 AFP

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