Approval of the Kremlin chief is falling, and displeasure is also spreading among the elite. Now it’s time to win – with a parade and a referendum.
MOSCOW taz | It was to be a glorious performance on May 9th on Red Square, the day of the Soviet Union’s victory over Hitler’s Germany. President Vladimir Putin should have taken over Josef Stalin’s victorious staff and reaffirmed Moscow’s leading role in World War II 75 years after the triumph. The Allied heads of state would have come, and the Kremlin chief would once again have underlined the establishment of the winning role and that of a continuing great power.
Instead, the story took a different course. Corona appeared and Russia’s commander-in-chief disappeared. It took weeks for him to speak again. At that time, he gave the governors the responsibility to fight the virus in the regions. In Moscow, he appointed Mayor Alexei Sobyanin as the crisis officer.
The president was busy with other tasks. Did he care what should happen to the vote on the constitutional changes scheduled for April 22? The solution dragged on until the president declared the virus defeated in May and scheduled for July 1st.
However, citizens can vote from June 25, at home, electronically or in the polling stations. This is to avoid traffic jams and prevent infections. Critics assume, however, that the equalized election mode, above all, makes civil society control more difficult.
The early election date shows that Putin and his entourage fear that the effects of the economic crisis could prevent citizens from voting if they move to September. Survey institutes expect growing protests in autumn.
In addition, the parade on Red Square should also mobilize and stimulate patriotic feelings, calculated political technicians from the Kremlin. The conquest of the corona virus could still be incorporated into the victory celebration. Moscow does not seem to trust the situation and believes a second wave of infections is not out of the question.
The president’s values are not too rosy at the moment. Confidence has dropped significantly since autumn 2017. From 59 to 25 percent. If foreign politicians were able to gain confidence in the corona crisis, Putin’s approval steadily declined.
One of the reasons was the little aid that Russia provided to citizens in times of crisis. Russia’s coffers are full. However, Putin refuses to pay any significant aid because he wants to bunk the $ 450 billion in reserves for darker times.
Oil price crashed
It is also the nest egg of the Putin system should the economy collapse further. A harbinger was the fall in the oil price in February. Russia’s leadership had contributed to the downturn.
The business community also complained that taxes and loans were only postponed. As a result, the Kremlin also lost support from small and medium-sized enterprises and the self-employed – a quarter of the labor market. The workers are also dissatisfied and have been a reliable pillar of the regime. So far, they also went away empty-handed.
“How much the regime disregards the interests of the people is now clear to Putin’s partisans,” said oppositionist and psychologist Leonid Gosman. According to him, Putin’s support also sank in the elite. This may even be a motive for the vote: With a clear vote by the voters for the extension of the term of office until 2036, the Kremlin chief wants to emphasize closeness to the people.
On the ballot paper with more than 220 changes, the passage about the “nullification” of the terms of office is not noticeable. Official advertising also spares the election of the eternal president. Instead, it is about marriage between men and women, indexing of pensions, the Russian language and the role of Russians as a state-building ethnic group.
A conservative potpourri that should mobilize in different milieus. The choice does not allow picking out individual points. Those who vote for everything in the block extend Putin’s time as a quasi-monarch.
Many indirectly put cowardice at Putin, says Gosman. He was inactive in the early stages of the pandemic. This behavior is reminiscent of Stalin’s submergence in the first days after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. “Perhaps the magic surrounding Putin’s rule has finally evaporated.”
The president’s public perception has actually changed since the pandemic. Putin retired to a bunker in the residence of Nowoe Orgojewo. Anyone who wants to go through a disinfection lock. Russia’s tough “musiks” react rather distraught.
In May, 44 percent said they wanted to vote for the changes, 32 said they were against it, according to the Lewada Center. The Kremlin would need just over 50 percent for this victory. If the results are different, help could also be provided. “But results like in Tajikistan (more than 75 percent) must not be given,” warned an experienced election assistant.