Putin’s Leadership Damaged by Chain of Recent Blunders

31 Mar 2020

(EDM) Russian society appears sharply divided regarding the indefinite extension of President Vladimir Putin’s “reign”—with 48 percent in favor and 47 against. Yet, amidst the present-day confusion and separate crises monopolizing people’s attention spans, this split looks far less shocking than would otherwise have been the case (Vedomosti, March 26). Despite, and partly even because of the propaganda blare, debates on the constitutional amendments, which Putin proposed in mid-January, have turned messy and compromised the integrity of the Constitution. His awkward exploitation of these revisions to “nullify” his two presidential terms, effectively granting him two more (see EDM, March 16), has left 20 percent of Russians outraged, 16 percent puzzled and 23 percent indifferent, with only 12 percent expressing satisfaction (Levada.ru, March 27). Poor management of this crucial process was aggravated by bad timing: Putin has had to indefinitely postpone the planned vote on the package of amendments because of the coronavirus pandemic (Kommersant, March 28; see EDM, March 26). [...]

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