Staunton, June 17 – Polls show Russians are overwhelmingly opposed to compulsory vaccinations and will feel betrayed if Moscow orders this after the promises to the contrary Vladimir Putin has made. Putin himself may have protected himself by shifting responsibility to the governors, but popular anger may be reflected in the upcoming Duma elections (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2021/06/kremlin-insists-shots-remain-voluntary.html).
According to Moscow political analyst Dmitry Mikhaylichenko, “the situation with obligatory vaccination is fraught not only with protest voting and the further alienation of society from the powers that be but also is generating more social dissatisfaction” of the kind that may become “a trigger” for broader protests (regnum.ru/news/3298918.html).
But the Kremlin may not see the full extent of the dangers because it is basing its calculations on what is happening in Moscow where compulsory vaccinations may be pushed through given the political capital of Mayor Sergey Sobyanin. But in regions far from the center, there is no such political capital and demands that people get vaccinated may backfire.
Instead of leading to higher rates of vaccination, efforts in these regions to force people to get the shots may generate resistance first to that and then to other things that the regions are doing, often at Moscow’s direction. That will lead first to protests against regional officials and then possibly against the central government.