Thursday, May 14, 2020

In Ending Days Off Restrictions, Putin Seeking to Recover the Initiative, Grashchenkov and Zharov Say

Paul Goble
            Staunton, May 12 – By announcing the end of the days off he gave to Russians earlier to promote self-isolation, Vladimir Putin shows that he is trying to recover the initiative so that he can hold the referendum on the constitutional amendments this summer and again be creating events rather than responding to them, Ilya Grashchenkov and Maksim Zharov say.

            By ending his order, Putin is not ending the self-isolation regime but rather putting pressure on the governors to do so, Grashchenkov, the head of the Center for the Development of Regional Policy, says, so that the Kremlin leader can have the constitutional referendum sometime between June 15 and July 15 (

            Had he not taken this otherwise inexplicable action, the regional specialist says, the pressure to keep the stay at home order in place until August or later would have been hard to overcome, and Putin would have begun to lose support from among those who are ready to vote for the amendments – government employees, single mothers, and pensioners.

            And so, in order to move the vote up, Putin has reclaimed control over the administration of the country. Had he waited any longer, Grashchenkov says, there would have been the danger that those who want to keep the self-isolation regime would have dominated and prevented the vote that Putin very much wants.

            Zharov, a Moscow political technologist, agrees. By making this announcement now, he says, Putin is seeking to be in control of events rather than be controlled by them. Otherwise, the timing of his statement makes no sense because the number of coronavirus cases is still increasing.

            But Putin’s timing means something else too, Zharov says. “The fight against the epidemic has sent into overtime the prematurely begun ‘transit of power’” and that in turn suggests that “the time at which the country will escape the epidemic will be determined” not by medical news but by political concerns.

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