Russians vote on airport names

A major online consultative referendum has come to an end in Russia. Citizens were asked to vote on which historic figures 47 airports across the country should be named after. But does the people's voice really count for anything in Russia?

Open/close all quotes
Echo of Moscow (RU) /

People's voice only counts for trivial issues

In Russia the citizens are only allowed to express their opinions on insignificant issues, criticises ex-presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak in Echo of Moscow:

“Only recently a referendum on the pension reform was forcefully prevented. In the last 20 years there hasn't been a single nationwide referendum. But we're supposed to be talking, discussing and fighting about airports. ... The fact that our country is waging an undeclared war, however, is taboo. Torture in prisons? Taboo. Political prisoners? Also taboo. But trivial, meaningless issues? Go ahead! They are an illusion. Because the state doesn't let the citizens decide for themselves. It is afraid that they will try to take away its power monopoly. ... This is how to destroy the new shoots of civil society activism at the roots.”

Vedomosti (RU) /

Putin always makes the final decision

It's significant that even on this matter President Putin will have the last word, Vedomosti comments:

“This is a fine metaphor for Russian democracy: the people seem to have a choice, but in the end the state leadership decides because it considers it necessary to control even secondary issues. ... The Youtube video in which an admiral in Kaliningrad 'recommends' that his subordinates vote in favour of Marshal Aleksandr Vasilevsky and against the philosopher Immanuel Kant is merely a small, visible part of the administrative pressure aimed at achieving the necessary results even in mock elections (that said, in Kaliningrad it was Empress Elizabeth Petrovna who won in the end).”