KALININGRAD, Russia — Aleksandr Dobralsky took to the streets to protest the arrest this past month of Russia’s most prominent opposition leader. But he had other grievances as well.
“It’s like somebody stepped on your toe and said, ‘Just be patient with this for a little while,’” Mr. Dobralsky, a lawyer, said of the country’s economic woes. “How can you just wait for it to be over?”
Opinion polls have for a few years been tracking a pivot in the national mood, away from what was called the “Crimea consensus” of wide support for President Vladimir V. Putin for annexing the Ukrainian peninsula. Now, people are focused on their disappointment over slumping wages and pensions.
In Russia, the competition between the rally-around-the-flag effect of Mr. Putin’s assertive foreign policy and anger over the sagging economy is often referred to as the battle between the television and the refrigerator: Do Russians pay attention to the patriotic news on TV or notice their empty fridges?
“Rallying around the flag is no longer an antidote against protest,” Ekaterina Schulmann, an associate fellow in the Russia and Eurasia program at the British research institute Chatham House, said in a telephone interview.
Ms. Schulmann cited focus-group studies indicating that Russians shown economic statistics about declining wages or the ruble’s exchange rate to the dollar were more likely to express support for a cautious foreign policy than Russians not shown the economic data first.
A number of factors eroded the Crimea consensus. The year Mr. Putin annexed Crimea, 2014, his approval ratings at home soared even as European countries, the United States and others responded with sanctions that threatened Russia’s economy.
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