Small scale protests in response to proposal to change Russian constitution

A Moscow protest, scheduled for today and approved for up to ten thousand participants, was cancelled by its organisers. Protests

russia protest

Photo: Reuters

A Moscow protest, scheduled for today and approved for up to ten thousand participants, was cancelled by its organisers.

Protests broke out in response to President Vladimir Putin’s unexpected proposal of sweeping constitutional changes during his address to the Federal Assembly on January 15. But despite efforts by leading Kremlin critics, the few protests that have taken place have had lacklustre support. While some ascribe the low turnout to lack of unity among the opposition, many Russians are hesitant to condemn the changes.

In addition to radically reducing the power of the presidency, Putin’s proposals include a minimum wage and higher pensions—policies designed to appeal to many potential protesters who are dissatisfied with the country’s social programs.

While it is unlikely that Putin will lose much of his clout when he is constitutionally required to leave office in 2024, his concessions are likely to prevent more cohesive protests from emerging. However, this attitude may change in the next several years if Russia’s leadership pushes forward with what would be the largest political transformation in decades—and in doing so, subjects its citizens to further instability and restrictions on their essential freedoms.

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