April 7, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8680

Russian Reactions On Twitter To Putin's April 2 Coronavirus Speech Reveal Growing Dissatisfaction With His Handling Of The Crisis

April 7, 2020
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 8680


On April 2, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the nation for the second time in eight days on the Coronavirus pandemic. In his eight-minute address Putin said: "The nationwide non-work week… made it possible for us to gain time to take preventive action… but the global peak of the epidemic is still ahead of us, including in Russia."[1]

Following the address, online news outlet Rosbalt[2] surveyed the reaction to the address on Twitter. While Rosbalt did not claim that this was a representative sample, and the highly educated urban populace that uses Twitter may be skewed against Putin, the tweets selected were highly critical of Vladimir Putin. Putin, who had been built up in the pro-government media as the ideal leader in a crisis situation, had fallen far short of expectations. While some of the criticism, such as that small business has been abandoned while government employees are protected, resembles criticism heard in other crisis-stricken countries, Putin was also criticized for abdicating responsibility to the governors and sending badly needed medical supplies abroad.

Below is a selection of tweets from Rosbalt's soc­ial media survey:

A tweet by Twitter user @andrey_malgin reads: "What a great guy Putin is. Deadbeats rejoice! 'It will be paid leave.' He forgot that in addition to state employees, the country also has private business. And where does the private business, already robbed by thieving officials and security forces, get [money] for this 'paid leave'? This will be the end of them all."

A tweet by Twitter user @zabuivchivaya reads: "Putin: The non-work month is extended until April 30 with the entire period being paid-leave.

"Employers: ??? Where ??? will??? I get the money for it??

"State: Well, yeah deal with it yourselves somehow."

A tweet by Twitter user @Respublicanez reads: "Putin's speech in short. We are on holiday until April 30. Business will pay for it. Responsibility rests with the governors. No measures [will be introduced] to support the public and business. It would have been better if he didn't speak at all."


A tweet by @great_laziness reads: "Putin quickly turned from a strong leader into a talking calendar."

A tweet by @Spoontamer reads: "Bitch! [the original expletive is unprintable] for 20 years we have been told about 'THE FIRM HAND OF PUTIN' and about 'A STEADY STRONG-WILLED PRESIDENT, WHO KNOWS WHAT TO DO!' But when real problems came and the whole medium and small businesses began drowning, Vova [Vladimir Putin] transferred responsibility to the heads of regions and wished [all of us] not to get sick until the end of the month."

>A reaction to a tweet by @OZHIGIN reads: "Governor of Komi Republic resigned. Putin gave additional powers to the governors. The governor of Arkhangelsk Oblast resigned."


A tweet by @bobchensk shows a video clip of a mountain marmot groaning. Text in blue, in reference to the extended "holiday" period, reads: "Until April 30."


A tweet by @gnooskov reads: "March 30 – April 30 – non-work days. May 1 – LABOR DAY." Labor Day, or International Workers' Day, is a holiday in Russia as well as a date of military parades.

A tweet by @roizmangbn says that Putin "instituted 'KhZ' mode until the end of April." "KhZ" is a Russian Internet term meaning "I don't know." It's an abbreviation that originated from an amalgam of various obscenities."" roizmangbn="" status="">

A tweet by @t_felg reads: "In brief, [Moscow mayor] Sergei Sobyanin is the guy on top. The Russian President Vladimir Putin has paws." The author refers to an Internet meme. The meme frequently utilizes the image of a cat accompanied by the text "I can't, I have paws," meaning the unwillingness or inability to perform an action.

The tweet by @aanechaev reads: "The reset to zero one [Vladimir Putin] extended non-work days until the end of April (the entire period being paid leave), but he did not say where business, without revenue and income during the self-isolation regime should obtain the money for it. The businesses will be ruined, and [I'm talking] not only about small and medium business, which will simply disappear."

A reaction to a tweet by @TerraVik reads: "Yesterday I submitted an application to the Ivanovo mayor's office for a permit allowing my enterprise to work. If they refuse, I'll have to ask the seamstresses to go into the square with picket signs. I lack the assets to simply sustain them for a month!"


A tweet by @pravdarule reads: "Results of Putin's appeal:

"The 'non-working week' is to be extended until April 30.

"An emergency regime was not introduced.

"There will be no help for the citizens.

"There will be no help for business.

"There are no masks and antiseptics in the pharmacies.

"It went to help America and Italy.

"Yours truly,

"Vladimir Putin"

The tweet by @hellpad has an image of a Putin's watch, the text reads: "Why was Putin's watch running 45 minutes slow during the live broadcast?" A reaction to this tweet by @siba_daria reads: "This allows time for preparation.[4]"

A tweet by @igor_stenin has a photo of a woman sitting in a subway car and the posterior of a nearby passenger and text that reads: "This somewhat resembles Putin's appeal."

A tweet by @adagamov reads: "I don't understand why Putin doesn't want to help the population survive this difficult period, when people are left without work, without their livelihoods. The country has reserves for a rainy day, and it has already arrived. It is time to act, and not the time to read on the prompter what a good fellow you are."

A tweet by @queerbt reads: "Putin was furious when he found out that one needs to work in order to get paid."

A tweet by @IlyaYashin reads: "[Putin] transferred responsibility to the regions. He ordered employers to pay salaries [to the workers on a leave], but not a word [was said] about helping businesses. He hypocritically thanked the doctors, instead of apologizing for the many years of health care 'optimization.' Is this a national leader? In my opinion, he is a joke."

A tweet by @pan_dok reads: "A brief recap of Putin's speech: The bottom line is, if you need a parade or a championship – give me a ring. But stop bothering me with this epidemic and your own personal problems. I'm tired. But I'm not going anywhere."[5]

A tweet by @misha_thunder has a poster of the Jim Jarmusch film "Only Lovers Left Alive," the title has been altered to "Only State Employees Left Alive."

A tweet by @BorroBorroo reads: "Everyone in the feed criticizes Putin's appeal to the nation, but he could have introduced some kind of a new tax, so all in all it was an okay appeal."



[1], April 2, 2020.

[2], April 2, 2020.

[3] The user is alluding to a famous Russian saying: "Let the living envy the dead."

[4] The user is alluding to the phrase raskachka that Vladimir Putin frequently uses and means time for preparation.

[5] The user is alluding to Boris Yeltsin's resignation on December 31, 1999. When Yeltsin felt tired, he resigned.

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