[news_author] On Thursday, June 20, against the background of growing protest tendencies in Russia, a regular direct line was held with Vladimir Putin, during which residents of the country asked the Russian president questions live. And although the show itself and the answers were given in the usual pattern, Direct Line-2019 was different due to the indignation of the Russians, which was noticed by Western analysts and the media. Many headlines say that the rating of the Russian leader has dropped significantly. What Western publications write about the causes and possible consequences of this drop - in the review by QHA media. British publication BBC News writes that the reason for the initial slump in ratings, according to the pollsters, was a controversial bill adopted in June 2018 which provides for raising the pension age in Russia - from 55 to 60 for women and from 60 to 65 for men. As the average life expectancy for a Russian man stands at 66, that offered the prospect of working almost till death. I would never have voted for Putin if I'd known he was going to put up the age at which we receive our pensions, Marina, 57, a retired teacher from Krasnodar, told the BBC. The publication also points to the growth of the protest potential of the population in the Russian Federation. According to the Levada Centre, an independent polling agency, people are concerned most of all by poverty, price rises, corruption, the gap between rich and poor and the continuing economic crisis. At first sight, according to the authors, the Kremlin seems to pay no attention to the president's declining popularity ratings, stating there was no reason to panic. But Putin is the personification of all the power in Russia, according to Andrei Kolesnikov from Carnegie Moscow Centre. His personal rating reflects attitudes towards every government institution. If he loses support, every minister and official loses it, too. Kremlin officials have to insist that Putin's ratings don't bother them. Officially, they have to appear confident. But there's no question they have been watching the figures closely and are starting to feel nervous, reads the conclusion American publication The New York Times writes that the discontent thrumming just below the surface in Russia was on clear display Thursday as President Vladimir V. Putin spent the bulk of his annual marathon, televised call-in program trying to convince the country that life was improving. The aticle contains some of the questions of the Russians to the president: “You have been in power for longer than Brezhnev,” said one of the citizens, referring to Leonid Brezhnev, whose 18-year rule is remembered as the era of stagnation. “But we continue to live in poverty as we used to live.” “When will serfdom be restored? We’re waiting for the lord of the manor who will buy our village and organize jobs.” “Just one question: when will you leave?” His basic message of Putin was that he understood that many of Russia’s 145 million people were troubled by low wages, uneven medical care and poor infrastructure, but that things were far worse before he came to power in 2000 and, trust him, he’s working on it, reads the article. The publication notes that this was the 17th such Putin’s show, and the same problems arise every year. In any case, economic conditions have recently deteriorated, and real income has fallen since 2014. He typically scolds a few governors who then scurry to the side of aggrieved citizens, expresses surprise that some teachers earn as little as $160 a month and fields a few foreign policy questions. Another US media outlet - POLITICO - writes that Russian public is less impressed with his swaggering on the global stage and is running out of patience with the stagnant economy at home, rising poverty, rampant corruption, repression and widespread abuses of power, according to Russian opinion surveys. The deplorable economic situation is weakening Putin’s once-stratospheric approval ratings. The leader who strode bare-chested across Siberia is now trusted by just 31.7 percent of Russians, according to state pollster VTsIOM, down from more than 71 percent in 2015, after the Crimea invasion, the article states. If Putin feels his hold on power is slipping, it could affect his international behavior. He might seek to regain the initiative with a renewed challenge to U.S. power, or he might retrench, refocusing at home. Either way, the results of his actions will be felt across the West, where Moscow has been actively fomenting discord. U.S. intelligence officials believe he still plans to interfere in the 2020 elections. And the nationalist wave in Europe has brought like-minded politicians to power, eager to improve relations—which could help block any further moves by the European Union to curb Putin’s behavior, the authors suggest. German publication Deutsche Welle writes that Russian President Vladimir Putin used his annual live call-in show on national television to assure the public that the economy was recovering and salary increases were on the way. Putin's popularity has declined steadily following reforms that lifted the state pension age and years of falling wages. The authors indicate that these were some of the grievances Russians raised on the call-in TV show, along with other domestic issues such as potholed roads, rubbish disposal, derelict schools and overcrowded health care facilities. Reportedly, Putin sought to understate the effect of international sanctions imposed after Moscow's 2014 annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea. Though he acknowledged that the restrictions in fact costed Russia $50 billion (€44 billion).He claimed the damage had been even worse in European Union countries. He echoed his line that Western sanctions and particularly Russian counter-sanctions had in fact allowed the Russian economy to develop in unexpected ways, including in the agricultural sector, Deutsche Welle writes. Putin keeps talking about breakthroughs, but obviously his claims don't correspond to [people's] realities, DW cited political analyst Ilya Graschenkov.