As a matter of fact, the Russian federal media left their audiences with no choice: “You either vote for the amendments or you are a betrayer.” Meanwhile, the post published by Yury Dud who runs an unrelated YouTube channel vDud where he interviews famous personalities from CIS region, has gathered over 1.1 mln likes. In this post he called the voting shameful. So, there are many people who see the current changes from a perspective that differs from an “official” version.
On June 25, Russia got down to general voting on amendments to the Constitution. They have been long discussed at various levels causing mixed reaction among the residents. Notably, despite all the problems triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and the crisis, the Kremlin has chosen very good time for the voting. It was scheduled for the day after one of the most inspiring annual events, the Victory Parade, held this year to commemorate the landmark parade, which took place in Red Square on June 24, 1945, as a symbol of the fall of Nazi Germany. It is worth recalling, though, that the federal center did its best for building up the level of people's loyalty to proposed changes in the Constitution in advance. Take, for instance, Vladimir Putin’s regular addresses with promises of more and more new measures of social support to the Russians.
However, this is not surprising. Before every election or, as in the current situation, before voting, the authorities lavish all sorts of benefits or at least promises on the people, in order to raise their own credibility ratings at least slightly and, in the final run, to prevent a complete rejection of their initiatives.
Sacred Voting for Putin
Moreover, the current voting has a special sacral meaning for Vladimir Putin personally. Shortly before the announcement of the date of voting, the State Duma deputies enlarged the list of proposed amendments with the clause on resetting presidential terms to zero. It will allow the Russian President to significantly extend his tenure in “post No. 1.” That is why Vladimir Putin, who used to convince the Russians that the “helicopter money handout” was unjustified despite the crisis of millions of families, changed his usual reserved economic policy for the same handout of benefits during June.
However, so far, it seems that despite all efforts, the federal center might face a lot of problems with voting. Neither increasing its duration until June 30, nor massive propaganda, nor attempts to legitimize what is happening by attracting people to the voting stations are unlikely to help. This can be seen at least by the level of dissatisfaction even among those who previously did not criticize the authorities. If these people voiced some idea that clearly contradicted the Kremlin's bottom line, they did so only when the wrong decisions and actions of the authorities were obvious.
“He is Unlikely to Give up Power”
Thus, rock musician Yuri Shevchuk, reporter and TV presenter Vladimir Pozner, and popular blogger Yuri Dud had already spoken out against the amendments and voting. The latter who called resetting the presidential terms to zero and voting “a disgrace,” made dozens of pro-governmental hosts on federal TV channels come up with emotional response. For example, Vladimir Solovyov, a well-known proponent of the ideas of the federal center, almost flied off the handle, commenting on Dud's humble and rather short post on the social network.
Meanwhile, the flow of criticism of voting on the amendments to the Constitution is not abating. Numerous public activists, politicians, political scientists, experts and reporters have already expressed their dissatisfaction. It has reached the point where even priests have started talking about them. The official position of the Russian Orthodox Church will undoubtedly stand with the initiatives of the Kremlin and the Parliament, but there are clerics who are not very optimistic about the upcoming events. For example, according to the Vesma newspaper, Fyodor Ludogovsky, a Russian priest and senior researcher at the Department of Slavic Linguistics at the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, called resetting the residential terms to zero “immoral.”
“On the one hand, resetting the residential terms to zero is completely immoral,” said Ludogovsky. “On the other hand, however, everyone has their own starting point. For example, for me, it started back in 2011 when Dmitry Medvedev said that Vladimir Putin and he had talked and came to a decision that Medvedev wouldn't run for presidency anymore. Even then it became clear that Putin would not give up power. At that time, it was also obvious that the elite were driving itself into a rather narrow scope, which would have no normal outcome. I do not even know if it is worth taking part in this voting. We are dealing with scammers, and it will be impossible to beat them on their own field.”
To argue with the critics of the “amendments” or to agree with them is a personal choice. In this case, the most important thing is to understand that there are always at least two points of view. The only trouble is that the federal media left no choice to the Russians, dictating them the following rhetoric: “You either vote for the amendments or you are a betrayer.” Meanwhile, the very post published by Yury Dud has gathered over 1.1 mln likes. In this post he called the voting shameful. Therefore, there are many people who see the current changes in a different perspective from the “official” version.