Staunton, April 26 – A VTsIOM poll shows that just over half of Russians would take part in a referendum on the constitutional amendments if it was held this month, with about two-thirds voting in favor and 27 to 30 percent voting against. But if the crisis continues, Valery Prokhorov says, the Kremlin will likely face more difficulty getting approval at a later time.
At the same time, the Moscow commentator says, people aren’t focusing on this issue, suggesting that the attitudes they report are held more by inertia from the pre-crisis period than anything else; and the government is no conducting the kind of propaganda campaign it might have been expected to (actualcomment.ru/opros-vtsiom-po-popravkam-v-konstitutsiyu-otsenki-i-prognozy-2004260953.html).
If the pandemic passes and the economic crisis eases, Prokhorov suggests, the regime should be able to hold the referendum at a time of relatively positive feelings and secure the approval it seeks. But if the crisis continues or becomes deeper than the regime is projecting, the Kremlin will face far more difficulties.
Since the pandemic began with its resulting economic consequences, the commentator says, there has been an increase in the number of those saying they will vote against the amendments, likely because they view the referendum as the occasion to express their anger at the government given that one of the amendments will allow Putin to remain in office for life.
Such people, Prokhorov suggests, would likely change their plans if the pandemic had passed and the economy appeared to be on the upswing. “Much depends on the length of the quarantine restrictions and also on the speed and size of the increasingly negative economic consequences of those restrictions.”