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Russians 'see Putin as a threat' as country fears disease and World War 3

NewsRussians 'see Putin as a threat' as country fears disease and World War 3

The Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine continues to rage on with at least five people killed today by Russian strikes targeting railway stations. A further 18 people were wounded in the attacks on stations in Zhmerynka and Kozyatyn, according to the Ukrainian prosecutor general. Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia was trying to brutalise parts of Ukraine but failing in its war aims while Kyiv is succeeding. 

He said after a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky: “The bottom line is this. 

“We don’t know how the rest of this war will unfold, but we do know that a sovereign, independent Ukraine will be around a lot longer than Vladimir Putin is on the scene. 

“And our support for Ukraine going forward will continue and it will continue until we see final success.”

Since Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine on February 24, some 15,000 Russian troops have been killed in fighting, according to the UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace. 

Read More: Ukraine LIVE: Putin horror as Boris to send ‘cutting-edge’ missiles

Putin’s actions have been widely condemned across the West, with the Russian President having even been accused of war crimes.

However, according to Russian journalist and playwright Mr Shenderovich, Putin may have not had full public support even before the invasion, with some Russians even considering the President to be a “threat”.

Mr Shenderovich assessment came in 2020 after Putin cancelled a largely symbolic nationwide referendum on new constitutional amendments, which included the proposal for his presidential term to be “nullified”.

This meant that Putin tweaked the constitution by resetting the presidential term limits, allowing him to remain President until 2036.

Putin, who has been in power in Russia, either as President or Prime MInister, since 1999, was scheduled to leave office in 2024.

In an article for the Byline Times, titled, “Afraid of the known, now Russians see Putin as a threat”,  Mr Shenderovich said: “According to the latest Levada Centre poll, only a third of Russians would vote on the constitutional amendments and less than half of them would support them.

“Allowing Putin to be elected for another two terms after 2024 was approved by 48 percent of the survey’s respondents, with 47 percent disapproving. 

“Thus it’s no longer possible to talk about a ‘Putin majority’ and it is obvious that at least half of the respondents did not want to see Putin in this post for another 16 years.

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“There is no reason to believe that this report reflects the true mood of Russians. 

“But it can be stated with confidence that it repeats the very fears that Russian propaganda has been trying to instill in the population for many years.”

Mr Shenderovich noted that Russia’s propaganda was designed to instill a fear of revolution, famine, chaos, devastation and war in its people, that only Putin could prevent. 

After the coronavirus outbreak, however, the Kremlin’s propaganda machine had become less effective on its people, according to the journalist. 

Mr Shenderovich said: “Opinion polls from independent think tanks show that the population’s main fear is shifting from a change and revolution to a fear of disease, the arbitrariness of the authorities and a possible world war ‒ the fear of the consequences of Putin’s rule, not the mythical consequences of his departure.”

He added: “The state of medicine, the arbitrariness of the security forces and the aggressive foreign policy that constantly raises the degree of confrontation with the West are the realities of modern Russia ‒ rather than the idea of an ‘impending catastrophe’ which was so popular just a few years ago.

“Simply put, Russians have become more afraid of Putin’s present than of the unknown future.

“Against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, the fear of the present has intensified even more, evolving into the very fear upon which the Kremlin formerly relied. 

“Thus any actions of Putin that could lead to an increase in the number of infections ‒ such as holding a nationwide referendum ‒ threaten to turn this ‘most important fear’ against him.”

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