MOSCOW, April 5 -- Russian President Boris Yeltsin still rates as one of Russia's least respected top politicians, a recent poll shows. The opinion poll conducted by the All Russian Center for Public Opinion puts support for Yeltsin as still hovering in single figures at just 6 percent. Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, on the other hand, is continuing to bolster his popularity, commanding the support of at least two thirds of the population with an approval rating of 64 percent, the poll says. Yeltsin's approval rating have stayed within single figures for much of his time in power. Plagued by a litany of illnesses and blamed by the Communist opposition for the catalogue of troubles Russia has suffered in its transition to a market economy, Yeltsin's popularity is normally at the 3 percent mark. His ratings hit a high of 30 percent just before he was re-elected as president in 1996. Yeltsin's campaign team plugged fears of a Communist revanche in a media campaign that gave them virtual control of the airwaves.Ill health has forced Yeltsin to hand over control of foreign and economic policy to Primakov ever since Russia's financial collapse of August last year. Primakov is now seen as Russia's de facto leader. Analysts say the slight improvement in Yeltsin's ratings may be connected to his strong condemnation of the NATO airstrikes on Russia's traditional ally Yugoslavia. But Yeltsin still faces an impeachment vote in the State Duma April 15. Charges filed against him include responsibility for Russia's disastrous military campaign against the breakaway Chechen republic.
But the hearings led by the Communist opposition are unlikely to bring success. Russia's two top courts and the upper house of parliament must also approve the motion. The poll surveyed 1,600 Russians and had a margin of error of 4 percent. ---
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