Covid-19 and political support in Russia

Russian Covid notice

Covid-19 and political support in Russia

Monday, 10 May 2021 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm
Dr Margarita Zavadskaya (Helsinki)
Professor Roy Allison (St Antony's) & Dr Oliver Ready (St Antony's)
Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre Monday Seminar

Margarita Zavadskaya is a research fellow at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki and Department of Political Science at the European University at St. Petersburg working on political regime’s transformations in Russia and other post-Soviet states with a focus on elections and governance. She is currently a PI of the Electoral Malpractice and its Political Consequences in Russia and beyond (ElMaRB) project. Margarita’s recent publications: 

Garnett, H. A., & Zavadskaya, M. (Eds.). (2017). Electoral integrity and political regimes: actors, strategies and consequences. Routledge.

Sirotkina, E., & Zavadskaya, M. (2020). When the party’s over: political blame attribution under an electoral authoritarian regime. Post-Soviet Affairs36(1), 37-60.


Linkages between Experiencing COVID-19 and Levels of Political Support in Russia

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has left noticeable traces in everyday life of Russian society. Eighty percent of Russians had to alter their lifestyles due to the virus, with half reporting that their incomes shrank, and this share keeps growing. Has the pandemic also affected how Russian citizens feel about their government? To explore how the pandemic has affected political support in Russia, we analyzed data from a representative online panel survey, “Values in Crisis,” carried out by the Laboratory for Comparative Social Research at the Higher School of Economics (LCSR, HSE). We looked at four indicators of support: confidence in (1) the Russian government, (2) the health sector, and (3) the country’s institutions as a whole, as well as respondents’ opinions on (4) how well the government is handling the coronavirus crisis. We found that actual encounters with COVID-19 and the public healthcare system are negatively, although weakly, associated with all four indicators. We also found that the fear of getting sick moderately positively correlates with assessments of the government’s response to the crisis. Reported negative economic impacts do not seem to affect political trust and support. Strikingly, the most distrusting group of respondents are the so-called “COVID19-dissidents,” who consistently scored low on all measures due to their refusal to take COVID-19 seriously. 

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