‘You Know Your Audience’: Russia’s Internet Stars Turn Away From Putin
- June 30, 2020
MOSCOW — Ksenia Hoffman, a Russian video blogger, says another blogger passed along an offer back in March: Was she interested in putting up an Instagram post mentioning the coming referendum on President Vladimir V. Putin’s amendments to the Constitution?
“They’ll pay well for it,” she recalls the blogger saying.
Ms. Hoffman, 22, says she turned down the offer. The appearance of carrying the Kremlin’s message, she said, increasingly risks staining an internet influencer’s image. And that has “serious consequences for ad sales.”
“The public mood has really changed,” said Ms. Hoffman, who has 800,000 followers on YouTube.
Among the constitutional amendments in the vote is one that lays a legal foundation for Mr. Putin to stay in office until 2036. The Kremlin looks assured of victory in the referendum, which ends Wednesday, but its desperate-looking scramble in recent weeks imploring Russians to vote lays bare a more fundamental challenge: For many people, Mr. Putin has lost his aura as the unshakable and irreplaceable leader of his nation.