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Coronavirus deals ‘powerful blow’ to Putin’s grand plans

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What was supposed to be a triumphant spring for Putin has become a political letdown, observers say, one that could be difficult for the president to recover from.

“This is the first time in 20 years that Putin is facing a crisis this serious,” said political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya. “This is a new experience for him.”

The timing of the pandemic, hitting just as Putin was unveiling major constitutional reforms, amounts to “a powerful blow to his plans”, she told AFP.

Stanovaya said that after so many years in power Putin has “distanced himself from the people” and lost the ability to empathise with Russians.

If the Kremlin cannot address economic problems, “social irritation will grow, there will be protests,” she warned.

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