Topics of the nationwide phone-ins with Vladimir Putin and their role for public support and Russian economy

Ivan Savin*, Nikita Teplyakov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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The addresses of national leaders can affect their public support and spur changes in the country's economy. To date, very few studies exist establishing these relationships, and no research has been done on the addresses from Vladimir Putin. In this paper we fill this knowledge gap by analysing the nationwide phone-ins of Putin, a special annual format where he addresses the public, and using structural topic modelling studying their topics over time. Furthermore, we relate these topics to public approval of the president and the government as well as to some Russian macroeconomic indicators such as inflation and budget expenditures. Based on our data containing 1938 responses and almost 250 thousand words, we identify 16 main topics covering areas from healthcare and education through economics to elections and legislation. We find that the topic of foreign affairs has gained in popularity over time the most (from around 4.5% at the beginning to more than 10% starting from 2014). Another topic, consistently gaining weight in the president's statements, is related to solving particular problems of the general public (from 8% to 12.5%) and is significantly correlated with subsequent decrease in the country's unemployment (Pearson's correlation coefficient -0.502). We also find that when the government's support is decreasing, Putin tends to discuss more socially significant topics (e.g., inflation, healthcare, Pearson's coef. around -0.5), while when the support is rising, he speaks more about foreign affairs (Pearson's coef. 0.773). Our study provides first evidence that Vladimir Putin may adapt the content of his phone-in meetings to gather public support and influence the country's economy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103043
JournalInformation Processing and Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • Machine learning
  • Presidential address
  • Public approval
  • Russia
  • Topic modelling
  • “Direct line with Vladimir Putin”


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