Staunton, May 11 – At a time when the number of coronavirus infections and deaths have reached frightening dimensions in Russia – 232,000 infections and 2116 deaths (club-rf.ru/news/57165 – experts say that the real dimensions of the problem are being understated by as much as a factor of three (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/05/11/85324-neuchtennye).
In addition to the usual explanations for undercounts, including misdiagnosis, deaths at home, and official desires to undercount the numbers, they point out that in April, official death rates in Moscow were 20 percent higher than the average of the last decade, almost all likely due to the pandemic (rbc.ru/society/11/05/2020/5eb86b839a79472170df7323?from=from_main).
Vladimir Putin again turned to the Russian people promising more support and ending the days off from work he ordered earlier as of May 12. Because self-isolation rules in Moscow and many other places will remain place, that means little but it shifts blame even more fully from the Kremlin to the governors (kp.ru/daily/27128/4215161/ and novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/05/11/85328-do-tretiego-etapa-mnogie-ne-dozhivut).
(Putin’s promises of more government support were undercut by the fact that immediately after his announcement, the government’s portal about assistance crashed (znak.com/2020-05-11/portal_gosuslug_okazalsya_nedostupen_dlya_polzovateley and capost.media/news/mainhotnews/after-putin-s-appeal-collapsed-the-portal-of-public-services/.)
Many of the heads of federal subjects are likely to feel compelled to extend the quarantine until the summer but they don’t want to say so lest they spread panic, and panic as officials keep saying is now more dangerous than the pandemic itself (ura.news/articles/1036280198 and kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5EB99AA2D881A).
Other pandemic-related developments in Russia today include:
· Lawyers in Kabardino-Balkaria went to court to demand that guards at detention facilities be provided with protection against the coronavirus because they are constantly being exposed to those who are infected (zapravakbr.ru/index.php/30-uncategorised/1460-advokat-vstupilas-za-sotrudnikov-sizo-v-kabardino-balkarii).
· While Russians are focusing on the pandemic, officials in some regions are preparing to allow poaching, so that people can get food but at the price of destroying much of the natural environment (newizv.ru/news/society/11-05-2020/pod-shumok-pandemii-v-rossii-gotovitsya-fakticheskaya-legalizatsiya-brakonierstva).
· Intentionally or not, Russian propaganda about the coronavirus and the supposed involvement of immigrants is having the effect of exacerbating ethnic tensions (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/05/11/85329-kovidnye-travmy).
· And Russians are beginning to face up to the reality that “the new normal” after the pandemic passes will be very different in large ways and small that the old normal many of them had hoped to return to (ng.ru/editorial/2020-05-11/2_7857_editorial.html).