Staunton, June 14 – The intense effort the Kremlin is making to secure a “yes” vote on the constitutional amendments at the July 1 referendum belies claims by Vladimir Putin and his allies that “an absolute majority” of the Russian people support these changes, Boris Vishnevsky says.
If the Russian people really backed the amendments, the St. Petersburg Yabloko deputy says, the Kremlin wouldn’t need to be pulling out all the stops to get people to vote correctly or to put in place mechanisms so that it can falsify the data to give Putin the appearance of a victory he couldn’t win if the vote were free and fair (echo.msk.ru/blog/boris_vis/2660041-echo/).
Among the steps the Kremlin wouldn’t have to take if it believed Putin’s own claims are the following:
· Putting up giant billboards calling on Russians to vote for the amendments
· Organizing celebrities to do the same thing
· Simplifying voting procedures so that monitors can’t determine who actually voted and thus opening the way to falsification
· Allowing for one time only special early voting so that the regime can push its own employees to vote the “right” way
· Preparing to deploy all “the administrative resources” the powers that be have used in past elections to force those economically dependent on the regime to vote correctly.
If the Kremlin were really confident, it wouldn’t have to do these things and it could easily delay the voting to a time when people could display their supposed enthusiasm in a safer environment. But instead, it is pushing ahead at a time when voting will be dangerous because the regime knows that people are turning against it and fears the situation will be worse soon.
And it also means that the Kremlin knows that what Putin is saying isn’t true and that includes supposed popular support for his remaining president until 2036. It is unfortunately likely that the powers that be will report the result they claim, but that too will have negative consequences for them as they likely also know, Vishnevsky says.
That is because it will be impossible to hide the deception they are engaging in; and while the Kremlin denizens may not have paid attention to real history as opposed to their imagined vision of the past, “many regimes have collapsed precisely when the mass population recognizes that an attempt to deceive them has been made.”