Wave of Post-Plebiscite Repressions Makes Russia More Dangerous

14 Jul 2020

(EDM) Russian President Vladimir Putin’s political “triumph” in securing approval for the set of amendments to the constitution in a public vote on July 1 (see EDM, July 2) has brought neither cheerful celebrations nor benevolent rewards to loyal subjects. Instead, the government has begun meting out selective punishments in numerous cases of dissent. In the run-up to the crudely manipulated plebiscite (see EDM, June 152229), the enforcers of autocratic order had to demonstrate restraint so that the propaganda campaign mobilizing votes for Putin’s proposal would not be upset by protests. Those delayed repressions have now been unleashed, however; and the siloviki—from the police to the country’s various security services—now feel free to hit any target of their choice (Republic.ru, July 9). Putin’s capacity to control their appetites and quarrels has been weakened by his need to resort to blatant falsifications of much-diminished public support. And this fraud sets a new standard for future elections, in which actual levels of popularity of the irreplaceable leader will lose their final shred of importance. [...]

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