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Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Says Pandemic hasn’t Changed Russia and Sobyanin Says Russians will Soon Forget about It


Paul Goble
            Staunton, September 8 – Vladimir Putin says that the pandemic has not introduced “radical changes in the lives of Russians (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/79824), and Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin predicts that in 18 months, Russians will forget about it entirely and focus on other things (regnum.ru/news/3057433.html).
            But many Russians feel the pandemic has turned their lives upside down (ng.ru/health/2020-09-08/8_7958_price.html). A new poll finds Russians equally divided on whether they fear getting infected (https://regnum.ru/news/3056890.html), and ever more of them are asking whether they should get the vaccine the government backs (mbk-news.appspot.com/suzhet/rossijskaya-vakcina/).
            They are being encouraged to think that both by scientists who say that the coronavirus will be with them “for a long time” (kp.ru/daily/217179/4283994/) and by officials like Tuva head Sholban Kara-ool, who has been infected. He says that “to think that everything bad is behind us is a mistake. COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere (regnum.ru/news/3056529.html).
            Perhaps an even more serious obstacle to the Kremlin’s desire to try to put the pandemic in the past now that it says it has a vaccine was the appearance today of a letter by an international group of scholars to The Lancet challenging as inconsistent and improbable data Russian researchers had published about their vaccine (cattiviscienziati.com/2020/09/07/note-of-concern/).
            The issue is coming to a head for two reasons. On the one hand, Moscow is beginning to immunize some in the population, forcing people to choose whether to be inoculated or not (rbc.ru/society/08/09/2020/5f5692d39a7947842832936c). And on the other, Russia is pushing for vaccinations against the flu lest those who don’t get that vaccination be even more at risk of coronavirus infection (iq.hse.ru/news/397528803.html and iq.hse.ru/news/397533005.html).
            Russian officials also reported that a new drug to treat those infected with the coronavirus has lowered mortality rates by as much as five times among those who are most seriously ill (regnum.ru/news/3056571.html).
            The Russian authorities continue to publish their daily figures, and ever more reports are coming in about how much at variance those are from the real situation. Today, the central staff reported 5,099 new cases of infection and 122 new deaths, upping the cumulative totals respectively to 1,035,789 and 17,993 (t.me/COVID2019_official/1446).
            But health ministry officials in Yekaterinburg reported that the actual number of infections there last week was twice as high as registered by Moscow (ura.news/news/1052448629).
            The pandemic continued to ebb and flow across Russia (regnum.ru/news/society/3051649.html), allowing for some re-openings but forcing other closings, including shifting some schools from in-person instruction to distance learning (regnum.ru/news/3057060.html).
            And on the economic front, new research found that many firms and individuals hid income they made during the pandemic in order not to have to pay taxes, leading to a situation in which real incomes rose by five percent but tax collections fell by 10 percent (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/79846).
            Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
·         An investigation found that Ryazan officials spent more money preparing 4500 medals to award those who fought the pandemic than they did on fighting the pandemic itself (ehorussia.com/new/node/21618).
·         Ildar Alyautdinov, the mufti of Moscow, reported that he has been infected with the virus (instagram.com/alyautdinovildar/).
·         And Russians are turning to fortune tells to give them advice on how to cope with the pandemic (newizv.ru/news/society/08-09-2020/molitva-zagovory-nastoyka-iz-muhomorov-chto-predlagayut-kolduny-v-epohu-kovid-19).

Window on Eurasia — New Series