In the Thick of ItA blog on the U.S.-Russia relationship
Most Russians See Coronavirus as Top Event of 2020, Worry 2021 Will Be Tense
The Levada Center has just released the results of its latest annual poll on the most significant events of the past year, and, predictably, the global coronavirus outbreak tops the list. As many as 39 percent of Russians believe the pandemic was the most significant event of 2020, while another 11 percent see the most significant event of 2020 as the amendments to the Russian Constitution, which have been designed to firm Russian President Vladimir Putin’s grip on power and reset the number of presidential term limits this veteran leader can serve, according to the poll (see Table 1). Rising prices came in third, according to Levada. In contrast, the share of Russians who view the 2020 presidential elections in the U.S. as the most important event of the past year was below the poll’s margin of error of 2.4 percent, totaling just 1 percent.
When it comes to the “Person of 2020,” the leading troika includes Putin (33 percent), Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin (13 percent) and Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenko (8 percent) (see Graph 1). In contrast, only about one percent of Russians see U.S. President-elect Joe Biden as the person of the year, while 3 percent view current U.S. President Donald Trump as such, according to the poll.
Looking ahead, 60 percent of Russians hope 2021 will be better than 2020, but 25 percent either expect no change or believe the new year will be worse than the previous one, according to the Levada Center (see Graph 2). Most Russians (62 percent) believe that 2021, when elections to the State Duma will take place, will be a politically tense year for Russia, compared with 71 percent who expected that from 2016, the year of the previous Duma elections. Additionally, 71 percent of Russians expect 2021 to be an economically tense year for Russia, while 81 percent expected that of 2016, according to Levada. Roughly equal shares of Russians (47 and 48 percent, respectively) believe that 2021 will be calm for themselves and their families and stressful for themselves and their families, according to the poll.
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