Russia’s Response to COVID-19: Leveraging Pre-Pandemic Data to Theorize about Public Approval
Why have Russians largely approved of the government’s pandemic response despite having one of the highest excess death rates in the world? The explanation is not that the government has done a good job, that citizens have come to expect little from the state in general, nor entirely because of a pro-government media. Drawing on pre-pandemic survey data, I argue that Russians’ opinions about state-provided healthcare shape their evaluation of the government’s response to COVID-19, and help explain approval of the government's pandemic reaction. Future research on Russian pandemic politics should account for the importance of prior assessments.