Putin doesn’t want Russians to continue focusing on Crimea, Goryunova says

A view of the Russian entry point into the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea occupied by Russia in March 2014 (Image: Kommersant.ru)

A view of the Russian entry point into the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea occupied by Russia in March 2014 (Image: Kommersant.ru) 

2017/05/19 - 12:32 • Analysis & Opinion, Crimea, Politics, Russia

Vladimir Putin, who exploited Russian euphoria over the Anschluss of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea three years ago to boost his own power, now wants Russians to pay less attention to that region so that they will not be as inclined to complain about the costs to them of that annexation, according to Yevgeniya Goryunova.

“Russian euphoria about the annexation of Crimea has significantly weakened under the press of social and economic problems,” the Crimean political scientist says. “The Crimean theme is losing its importance,” and the only aspect of it that Moscow outlets now talk much about is the Kerch bridge.

In 2014-2015, Putin made “the sacred importance” of Crimea the centerpiece of his speeches, but already by 2016, as the economic crisis in Russia deepened and the costs of the occupation became more obvious, he shifted away from this theme. And by the end of that year, the Kremlin leader mentioned the annexed peninsula only in passing.

That both drove and reflected changing Russian attitudes, Goryunova says. On the one hand, “with each passing year,” the share of Russians who believe that Crimea is part of Russia has grown, from 89 percent in March 2014 to 97 percent now, although polls suggest Russians are less confident that the Anschluss has been a good thing for them.

But on the other, the share of those who viewed the annexation in a negative way has grown from 18 percent to 23 percent over the last three years, according to the independent Levada Center surveys, although the Kremlin-linked VTsIOM pollsters say that those opposed, after rising between 2014 to 2016 has fallen this year from 22 percent to 13 percent.

Perhaps more important for Putin’s decision to reduce public attention to Crimea are some two other poll numbers. VTsIOM reports that the share of Russians opposed to giving special aid to Crimea has risen from 21 percent in 2014 to 84 percent now, and the Levada Center says that 55 percent of Russians oppose cuts in programs benefiting them to help the peninsula integrate into Russia.

“The logic of Russians regarding the peninsula is simple,” Goryunova says: “Crimea is of course ours but we do not want to support it. Let the people there do so on their own.” Russian tourism to the region is down, and Russians clearly are less focused on Crimea than at any time since before the Anschluss.

“The single thing which still generates interest among Russians is the construction of the Kerch bridge,” which the Moscow media re treating as a Russian analogue to Soviet projects like the Baikal-Amur Mainline. As long as construction on the bridge is going on, Crimea will get some coverage in Moscow outlets.

But Crimea is something Russians think about less and less, the political analyst says; and that will be true even if the Kremlin changes the date of Putin’s re-election to make it coincide with the official annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula. After that, the regime clearly hopes, it will become just one more Russian region.

According to Goryunova, all this reflects the fact that both domestically and internationally, Putin’s seizure of the Ukrainian peninsula has been “a Pyrrhic victory” at best. The West hasn’t been willing to recognize his action as legitimate, and Russians when they focus on it see only costs rather than benefits.

“The Putin regime passionately needs rapid results,” the analyst continues; and “therefore for the Russian leader in this case, the best way out will be to mention Crimea as rarely as possible,” to allow it to recede into the myths of the past as just the “latest” Russian acquisition rather than the unique and special one Putin insisted upon only a few years ago.


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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Robert

    Crimea is something the rest of the world must NEVER forget. In fact, every single dialogue with vlady or ANY Russian ANYwhere should begin with a question like: “So, when is vlady gonna exit the Krim?”; or “Exactly when is vlady gonna return Crimea to it’s real owner?”; or “How are vlady’s plans to de-occupy the Krim going?”. EVERY SINGLE dialogue with any and every Russian – especially when it comes to international diplomacy – must begin with this theme! And the media must report this as continuing to happen. The Russians will see in the headlines that NO ONE has forgotten that Crimea is NOT Russian and it never will be…

    • Rafaelski Hernandezov

      Crimea was Russian between 1789 and 1954, untill a Ukrainian decided to give it to Ukrainian SSR. It has returned to the motherland, and it shall forever remain in the motherland forever. No Ukrainian will give it away, illegally

      • veth

        Crimea is Ukraine, neo fascist Russian.

      • Robert

        You are so confused and confusing … I find your confused and confusing comment unworthy of reading, reflection or reply… get a life…

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        First, Khrushchev was NOT Ukrainian. He was born in Kalinovka, Kursk Gubernate, to ethnic Russian parents. Read his memoirs. Second, it was NOT Khrushchev but Georgi Malenkov- also Russian- who transferred the Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR, conform a decision taken by Stalin, your Lord and Master Pedo Putolini’s Great Hero and Shining Example. Third, both Yeltsin and Pedo Putolini explicitly recognised the Crimea as Ukrainian in the various treaties they signed with Kyiv.
        Stealing something does not make it yours. The Crimea is Ukrainian, end of discussion.

        • Ihor Dawydiak

          What can anyone expect from a russkie durak that is paid in cabbage leaves imported from Belarus or is it Serbia? In fact, it would be highly unlikely that Rafochka would even be knowledgeable about Khrushchev, much less Malenkov, since both of these pompous peasants cannot be found in Vovochka Putin’s book of comic book “Russian heroes”.

  • Alex George

    Its not surprising he does not want them to talk about it. The Russian invasion of Crimea has turned into a disaster. it is a hole into which Moscow sinks money (helped along, of course, but the corruption of Russian oligarchs).

    And most of all, Putin knows that Russia cannot hold Crimea. Sooner or later Russia will have to hand it over, and he may as well get the Russian people prepared for that event. Crimea is Ukrainian.

  • zorbatheturk

    Who the hell cares what Putin wants? An adult needs to take his toys away.

  • Oknemfrod

    Having apparently sensed the connection between the annexation of Crimea and the depleting content of their already shallow pockets, the sheeple is still unable to figure out that the mud volcano “Kerch bridge” is a wind tunnel through which their remaining rubles are being sucked out? The awakening is near and is going to be rougher than they fancy.

    p.s. That doesn’t account for the untold billions needed to either do something about the water supply in North Crimea rapidly turning into a saline desert or resettle its population. The artesian water there is already ill-suited for drinking and absolutely inadequate for any meaningful agriculture.

    • Andrew Chmile

      “the water supply in North Crime”

      You KNOW the Ruski are stupif & they DGAF!
      They will later SCREAM that:
      “UKRAINE IS FORCING PEOPLE TO DIE OF THIRST!!!!
      A-Y-Y-Y-Y-Y-Y-Y-E-E-E-E-eeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

      Just watch!
      & the STUPID Americans & Europeans (esp. those German morons!)
      will DEMAND that Ukraine WATER THE RUSSIAN ENEMY!!!
      PEOPLE SUFFER!!!

      The people in Crimea will be told they suffer because of Ukraine & their
      Banderovchi — FASCISTS!!!
      And they will all believe that BS!
      Just watch! :)

      • Oknemfrod

        Yup. In fact, it’s already been happening.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      The lack of water was but one of the reasons that Stalin decided to transfer the Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR, as Malenkov and Khrushchev discovered when they visited the peninsula in the summer of 1953 to see for themselves what the problems were. They came to the conclusion that Stalin was right and reported accordingly to the Presidium, as the Politburo was known then.

      • Oknemfrod

        Exactly.

  • Dirk Smith

    Once this dwarfish mafia punk is hung by the neck in the Hague, the Crimean peninsula will have already begun to prosper under Ukraine’s leadership.

  • Murf

    Of course they don’t want the Russian people to focus on Crimea.
    It is a stark example of the ideological bankruptcy of the Russian Mir.
    The Tranisisster the Kremlin can claim the economic failure on it separation from Russia.
    South Ossitia was a failure before they got involved.
    Donbas is a war zone.
    But Crimea was to be their crowning jewel.
    Now the agriculture is dying, the industry has collapsed and tourism is a shadow of it’s former self.
    Soon the only successful businesses will be the bars and brothels surrounding the military bases.
    But at least they get to kick the crap out the Tarters when even they need to feel better about them selves so I guess its all worth it.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      I doubt whether the bars and brothels will be very successful. The wages in Dwarfstan’s armed forces aren’t all that great for its conscripts, which form the bulk of the forces, though the contract soldiers are significantly better off. And even the measly wages officially paid are sometimes only partly paid with the rest being deducted under “excuses” such as living expenses by their superiors, or payoffs to prevent being beaten up by their drill sergeants.

  • zorbatheturk

    RuSSia will turn CrimeA into an open air gulag.