Vladimir Putin's popularity plummets due to ineffective coronavirus response in Russia

When the bells tolled for the start of 2020 Vladimir Putin probably saw a glorious decade ahead.

Putin's grip on office was as secure as ever so much so he felt confident enough to ask the electorate to allow him stay in power beyond his allocated term.

By now there should have been a vote which would change the constitution keeping Russia’s fourth president in the Kremlin beyond 2024.

Coronavirus, however, has changed all that.

The vote didn’t take place and the president is facing plummeting popularity.

  • Political Analyst Ekaterina Schulmann believes President Putin's grip on power could be weakened by the coronavirus outbreak

So far only the United States is in a worse position in terms of infections compared to Russia.

The country now has 242,000 Covid-19 cases, 10,000 of those announced on Wednesday alone.

But with deaths registered at just over 2,000 there is scepticism about those figures and a fear they could be much higher.

The crisis is highlighting Russia’s patchy healthcare provision - and lack of protection for its providers.

It’s not just the pandemic that’s causing the fear, it’s the poverty.

For six weeks now Russia’s economy has been halted; the oil price is tumbling, unemployment has doubled and those losing their jobs get a one-off payment of £130.

Churches try to help, so too charities but this has the potential to be an economic collapse beyond their reach.

  • The Rev Canon Malcolm Rogers of St Andrew's Anglican Church in Moscow says some have been pushed into poverty by the coronavirus crisis

Meanwhile, from his country residence, the president is trying to distance himself, delegating decisions to local governors but aware this pandemic and the poverty it’s causing a threat to his power.

Some polls suggest his approval ratings have plummeted from 80% to nearer 20%.

We’re told he is not inclined to trust the polls, but with rising poverty and sickness, the president may find voters less inclined to trust him.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know