More than three quarters of Russians are against the Kremlin’s plans to introduce mandatory vaccine passports on trains and domestic flights, a poll by the independent Levada Center has found.
Amid surging mortality from the coronavirus and a stubbornly low nationwide vaccination rate, Russia’s parliament has introduced draft legislation that would ban Russians without a vaccination certificate, proof of recent recovery from Covid-19 or a negative PCR test from boarding intercity trains and flights.
Voting on the bill will start in December and take effect in February if it passes, but the measures have proved highly controversial among Russians — only 40% of whom have been vaccinated.
According to the Levada poll published Tuesday, 76% of respondents said they were against the proposal.
One in four respondents said they would be prepared to take part in local protests against the introduction of health passes should they be introduced in their city.
Transport operators have said the initiative could result in big losses, with airlines expecting revenue to fall by at least half.
The opposition to QR codes comes as wider anti-vaccination sentiment across the country appears to be falling. Some 36% of Russians said they were outright opposed to getting vaccinated — down from more than 50% in September and a high of 61% recorded in April.
Russians were slightly more positive toward the idea of vaccine passports for access to public places and mass events than transport, but 50% still opposed those policies. All 85 Russian regions have already introduced vaccine passports of some kind, though their use differs across the country. In Moscow, for instance, QR-codes are only required for mass public events of more than 500 people.
In the central city of Kazan, local authorities have pressed ahead with QR-codes for public transport despite widespread local opposition — removing more than 1,000 passengers from city buses on the first day of their introduction and rejecting an appeal from citizens that the restrictions were unconstitutional.
Levada also found that 42% of Russians were in favor of universal mandatory vaccination — up from 38% in June.
President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly stated his opposition to mandatory vaccination for all. Most regions have rolled out compulsory vaccination rules for workers in certain sectors of the economy, such as services and education, as well as pensioners.
Levada polled 1,603 people in 137 cities and towns between Nov. 25 and Dec. 1.