Russians worried about country's direction hits highest in 13 years

MOSCOW, Feb 1 - The number of Russians who believe their country is moving in the wrong direction rose to its highest since 2006, a new poll showed.

Forty-five 45 percent of Russians now believe the country is "on the wrong course," compared with 42 percent who approve of the country's direction, according to the poll by the independent Moscow-based Levada Centre, which was published late on Thursday.

Those poll results marked a sharp change from a year ago, when only 28 percent said the country was moving in the wrong direction and 55 percent approved.

The findings do not pose an immediate risk for President Vladimir Putin, who has dominated Russian politics for 19 years and whose overall approval rating remains over 60 percent.

But they raise questions about how the Kremlin may seek to reverse what both independent and state pollsters have shown is a slide in his ratings since he won re-election last year.

Last month, a state pollster said the public's trust in Putin had fallen to its lowest level in 13 years amid dismay over falling household incomes and unpopular government moves to raise the retirement age and the value added tax.