At 4pm on Wednesday afternoon, the head of the Russian Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin posted to Telegram pleading with Russians to support vaccinations and QR codes, and opened the previously closed comments feature on his channel. Within 24 hours, furious Russians had made over 400,000 comments, which appear to be 99% against. At the time of publication of this article, 36 hours after the post, the number has risen to over 500,000 comments.
We scrolled through 100s of comments, and found only one in support of Russia's newly revived Covid tyranny. Here is a link to the post, if you click on the comments below this post in the Telegram app, you can see the comments counter spinning swiftly as Russians vent on the unpopular measures. You need to view the post in the app to see the comments. Furthermore, a perusal of these comments makes it clear that they are real comments written by real citizens. Many of them are long and detailed.
Socially conservative Russian social media channels, many of them overtly Christian, (which in Russia means Orthodox Christian), are at the forefront of urging Russians to use this opportunity to let their voices be heard. It is expected that the number of comments will soon reach into the millions. Even by yesterday afternoon, the number of comments had broken Telegram's record for comments on a single post. New comments are appearing at the rate of about 4 per second, or 14,400 per hour, or 288,000 per day.
One has to wonder if it was even Volodin's idea to open up the comments. Could this have been the idea of the staffer who runs his channel? Could that staffer now be on a chilly train ride to Siberia?
Some observers are predicting that Volodin will turn off the comments to avoid political embarrassment. But that would be embarrassing too. Russians are a patient people, but if you push them too far, the bear awakens ...
Here is a screenshot of typical comments:
On Thursday in parliament, Volodin was asked by a deputy to react to the astonishing explosion on Telegram. Volodin admitted that it was interesting, but repeated his opinion that the country had to press forward with vaccine mandates and QR codes: (video is in Russian)
At time of publication, the video has 31K views, and 1200 comments, again, 90 % + denouncing QR codes.
Here is the translation of Volodin's initial post:
Doctors at 11 hospitals today appealed to opponents of the coronavirus vaccine. I share and support the position of doctors. They fight for patients' lives, they know the real situation - what happens in "red zones" and intensive care units. They understand what measures are really effective. They care when they are faced with some politicians and public figures publicly questioning the benefits of vaccination.
For our part, we do everything we can to keep Parliament functioning. 92% of deputies and 97% of the staff are immune to the coronavirus. But despite this, 4 deputies are sick today. Over the past 10 days, two members of staff have passed away.
We are working on the issue that those who come to the Duma have a QR-code. First of all we are talking about our colleagues from the Government and experts. We plan to implement this decision in December. Not everything goes smoothly, but our position is that it is right to start with ourselves.
As for the draft laws about QR codes which have caused a public response. They have been sent for distribution by December 14 - to the regions, to the Public and Accounting Chambers, and to the Federation Council.
It is important to discuss them comprehensively, they concern people. Citizens, lawmakers, regions, members of the public and experts have time and opportunity to study both draft laws carefully and make their comments and suggestions.
The State Duma and deputies received more than 120,000 official appeals; there are even more comments in social networks. All of them are being carefully studied. These are people's opinions.
We will have a dialogue on these questions with the Government, the initiator of the bills on QR codes. We understand the responsibility, so we consider it necessary that even before the first reading the three specialized committees - on safety, health and transport - have discussed the bills. Such meetings with representatives of the Government will be held in all factions.
In conclusion. It is important for us to develop solutions that will protect people's lives and health without violating the fundamental rights of citizens. This is what our President Vladimir Putin said.
The outcome of the discussion and the deputy's position on the issue will show what kind of decision we will make.
Feedback is important to us, and Parliament cannot work without it.
By the way, that is one of the reasons why I decided to open comments.