Sunday, March 29, 2020

Putin Fears the People Not the Coronavirus, Boris Vishnevsky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 25 – All his PR efforts notwithstanding, Vladimir Putin “is not afraid of the virus but of the people” and is not acting out of concern for their lives and health but rather to protect his own power, according to Yabloko opposition politician Boris Vishnevsky (

            The Kremlin leader has repeatedly shown that he isn’t concerned about the people in cases ranging from the Kursk, Nord-Ost, Beslan, the Chechen war, the Georgian war, the Ukrainian war, the Syrian war, and pension reform.  But his decision to postpone the voting on his constitutional amendments shows that he does fear the people.

            If the coronavirus were the only problem on the horizon, Vishnevsky says, Putin would have had the April 22 vote go ahead. “But the situation now is such that the combination of the epidemic, quarantine measures, declining living standards, the falling ruble exchange rate, inflation, and the threat of unemployment have put the results of this ‘voting” in doubt.”

            Indeed, attitudes about Putin are changing to the negative so quickly that he might not get the majority he needs to stay in power until 2036 no matter how many administrative measures he and his minions might employ.  That is why he delayed the vote, not from any concern about the well-being of the Russian people.

            Lev Shlosberg, a Pskov opposition deputy, and Dmitry Gudkov, an opposition commentator, make a similar argument. Shlosberg suggests says that with his speech, Putin was “struggling not with the coronavirus but with his falling rating” and clearly hasn’t figured out what to do other than use PR ( 

            And Gudkov for his part says that Putin’s choices are limited because he has lied to the people so often that no one is going to trust him “for a minute” during this crisis whatever he says and whatever he promises. They’ve finally learned their lesson, he argues (

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