Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. Picture: REUTERS
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. Picture: REUTERS

Moscow — Kremlin-controlled television in Russia has launched a new weekly show dedicated to President Vladimir Putin in an apparent attempt to stem a major fall in his approval ratings.

The first episode, which aired on Sunday on Rossiya 1, showed the long-serving leader picking mushrooms in Siberia and in meetings with miners and schoolchildren. Putin already dominates state news bulletins but Rossiya 1’s hour-long show Moscow. Kremlin. Putin provides a new format to showcase his activities.

The previously unannounced show comes as Putin faces a record fall in his approval ratings as a result of a deeply unpopular pension reform that saw thousands of Russians take to the streets in protest.

It is a project of state TV company VGTRK, "not the Kremlin’s", Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said Monday. "It is important for us that information about the president and his work schedule is shown correctly and without distortion."

Peskov took part in the first episode. He was interviewed by pro-Kremlin presenter Vladimir Solovyev and praised Putin’s personal and professional achievements.

"Putin not only likes children, he likes people in general. He’s a very human person," the spokesperson told viewers.

Much of the programme hailed Putin’s stance on the controversial pension reform, which has been Russia’s top news story for weeks.

Last week Putin proposed measures to soften the reform in a rare televised address — suggesting raising the state pension for women by five years instead of eight — but he stuck to the overall government plan.

Peskov told the programme that Putin took the decision to address the nation "momentarily" and "literally the next day we recorded it".

On Sunday thousands of people across Russia protested against the reform despite Putin’s announcement of concessions. Public trust in Putin’s presidency fell to 64% in July from 80% in May.

The last time his approval ratings were this low was in January 2014, just months before his popularity skyrocketed following the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.