Yekaterinburg protesters get a survey, but not a referendum. What difference will it make?

“If we go for a referendum, the situation will be suspended for a year. It would mean really major preparations, really major costs. That’s why, right now, we have to put maximal efforts into making sure this survey is maximally correct in procedure, in form, and in representativeness,” Yekaterinburg mayor Alexander Vysokinsky said on May 17. After several days of protests against the city’s plans to build a cathedral for its patron saint that would replace a central square, he was explaining the local government’s decision to run a survey instead of a referendum to gauge public opinion on the project.