Vladimir Putin's approval rating hits all-time high, boosted by Syria airstrikes

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How Does Putin's New Approval Rating Stack Up?

Russian President Vladimir Putin's approval rating has reached nearly 90 percent largely thanks to his military moves in Syria, according to a new nationwide poll published Thursday.

State-run pollster VTsIOM said a record 89.9 percent of Russians approved of Putin in its latest weekly survey -- up from 86.6 percent a week earlier and above the previous record of 89.1 in June 2015.

"Such high approval rating of the president of Russia had to do mostly with the events in Syria, [and] Russian airstrikes on terrorist positions," VTsIOM said on its website.

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Vladimir Putin's approval rating hits all-time high, boosted by Syria airstrikes
VLADIVOSTOK, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 13: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting on shipbuilding on November 13, 2014 in Vladivostok, Russia. Putin is on a two-day trip on the way to the G20 Leaders Summit in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
The front page of the local newspaper calls on Russia's President Vladimir Putin to apologise as relations between Australia and Australia hit an all time low after the downing of Flight MH17 in Ukraine, at the G20 Leader's Summit in Brisbane on November 14, 2014. AFP PHOTO/William West (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)
Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, pauses during a global business leaders summit at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on Friday, May 23, 2014. SPIEF is an annual international conference dedicated to economic and business issues which takes place at the Lenexpo exhibition center May 22-24. Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his visit to the Crimean port of Sevastopol on May 9, 2014. Putin's visit to Crimea, which was annexed by Moscow in March, is a 'flagrant violation' of Ukraine's sovereignty, authorities in Kiev said today.AFP PHOTO/ YURI KADOBNOV (Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his visit to the Crimean port of Sevastopol on May 9, 2014. Putin's visit to Crimea, which was annexed by Moscow in March, is a 'flagrant violation' of Ukraine's sovereignty, authorities in Kiev said today.AFP PHOTO/ YURI KADOBNOV (Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian security forces guard a checkpoint outside the southern city of Mykolayiv on May 9, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin took a victory lap in his first visit to Crimea since its annexation by Russia, as fighting in eastern Ukraine left 21 dead just days ahead of a separatist vote. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXEY KRAVTSOV (Photo credit should read ALEXEY KRAVTSOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian security forces guard a checkpoint outside the southern city of Mykolayiv on May 9, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin took a victory lap in his first visit to Crimea since its annexation by Russia, as fighting in eastern Ukraine left 21 dead just days ahead of a separatist vote. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXEY KRAVTSOV (Photo credit should read ALEXEY KRAVTSOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian security forces guard a checkpoint outside the southern city of Mykolayiv on May 9, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin took a victory lap in his first visit to Crimea since its annexation by Russia, as fighting in eastern Ukraine left 21 dead just days ahead of a separatist vote. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXEY KRAVTSOV (Photo credit should read ALEXEY KRAVTSOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Armed pro-Russia militiants take part in a rally marking Victory Day in eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on May 9, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin took a victory lap in his first visit to Crimea since its annexation by Russia, as fighting in eastern Ukraine left 21 dead just days ahead of a separatist vote. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY (Photo credit should read Alexander KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images)
Armed pro-Russia militiants take part in a rally marking Victory Day in eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on May 9, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin took a victory lap in his first visit to Crimea since its annexation by Russia, as fighting in eastern Ukraine left 21 dead just days ahead of a separatist vote. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY (Photo credit should read Alexander KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images)
Armed pro-Russia militiants take part in a rally marking Victory Day in eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on May 9, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin took a victory lap in his first visit to Crimea since its annexation by Russia, as fighting in eastern Ukraine left 21 dead just days ahead of a separatist vote. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY (Photo credit should read Alexander KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images)
A man holds pictures of dead relatives during a Victory Day ceremony at the Unknown Sailor Memorial in the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa on May 9, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin took a victory lap in his first visit to Crimea since its annexation by Russia, as fighting in eastern Ukraine left at least 21 dead just days ahead of a separatist vote. AFP PHOTO/ ANATOLII STEPANOV (Photo credit should read ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images)
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Moscow claims the air operation in Syria is aimed at weakening ISIS. Western officials have questioned whether Russia is actually targeting moderate rebels in a move to bolster its flagging ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad.

MORE TO READ: Assad Goes to Moscow to Say Thanks to Putin

Putin's rating had been hovering above 80 percent since spring 2014, when Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and endorsed a bloody pro-Russian uprising in eastern Ukraine.

With the latest VTsIOM poll, Putin's popularity is now just a notch below that of Central Asian dictators -- who can often rack up between 90 and 97 percent of votes in elections.

While VTsIOM is a respected pollster, analysts have long questioned Russian approval polls. Studies show that in authoritarian states, polls can overstate the popularity of incumbent leaders by between 5 and 20 percent because many respondents give the answers that they think are expected of them.

MORE TO READ: Syrians Say Russian Airstrikes Bring 'Massive Destruction'

The latest figures come amid a prolonged economic slump. Official data released earlier this week shows Russian household income has been decreasing for the past 11 months.

Almost half of respondents in last month's VTsIOM poll last month said they expected the economic crisis to get worse.

VTsIOM said it polled 1,600 people and that the poll's margin of error was 3.5 percentage points.

Watch more coverage below:

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