Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Putin Says Russia Exiting Pandemic with Minimal Losses, While Infections and Deaths Continue to Rise and Economy Stalls

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 14 – Vladimir Putin says that despite everything, Russia has come through the pandemic with minimal losses and confidence that everything is going to get better in the future, the result of the willingness of Russians to do what the president tells them and thus a sharp contrast to the disastrous situation in the US.

            There, Putin says, Donald Trump gives instructions but the states and localities do what they want, the culmination of the campaign by Democrats who lost to Trump in 2016 to do everything they can to impede his work and undermine his rule (meduza.io/news/2020/06/14/putin-rossiya-vyhodit-iz-epidemii-koronavirusa-s-minimalnymi-poteryami-a-v-ssha-tak-ne-proishodit).

            But data from Russia, including those collected and issued by his own officials, undercut Putin’s claims about the situation in the Russian Federation and show that the pandemic there is far from over and that the Russian economy is likely to remain in deep trouble for several years to come.

            In the last 24 hours, 8835 more Russians were infected by the coronavirus, bringing the cumulative total to 528,964; and 119 more people died, pushing that total to 6948 (t.me/COVID2019_official/815). And experts pointed out that those figures are roughly the same and do not indicate any trend toward improvement.

            The number of Russians infected by the coronavirus has remained between 8,000 and 9,000 in recent days, they say; and consequently it is “still too early to speak about the end of the pandemic” (versia.ru/za-sutki-v-rossii-vyyavleno-8835-novyx-sluchaev-zarazheniya-koronavirusom-chislo-smertej-priblizilos-k-7-tysyacham).

            Moreover, officials are talking about the measures they may take if things get worse rather than assuming as Putin does that everything is going to get better. If the situation improves, they will lift some restrictions; if it doesn’t, they won’t until they see evidence that the pandemic is fading.

            Health Minister Mikhail Murashko adds that the situation with regard to the coronavirus “is constantly changing,” sometimes getting better and sometimes worse. He urges Russians not to make plans for vacations that they cannot cancel, hardly a recommendation consistent with Putin’s line.

            And in some places the situation truly is getting worse even now. Oleg Ergashev, deputy governor of St. Petersburg, says his city’s hospitals don’t have enough beds to handle the influx of new cases and that infection rates there show that the pandemic isn’t showing signs of ending (topspb.tv/news/2020/06/14/oleg-ergashev-situaciya-s-koronavirusom-v-peterburge-ostaetsya-slozhnoj/).

            The economic news, Putin notwithstanding, isn’t good either. Oil prices and demand continue to be low, and gas prices and demand are projected to fall over the next year, leaving the Russian government without one of its most important sources of revenue (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/77271 and krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/77244).

             Meanwhile, other pandemic-related news from Russia this Sunday includes

·         The Russian government says that when hotels reopen they must verify that the people checking into the same room are in fact related, a requirement that may be popular with Putin’s base but won’t be with many Russians (rg.ru/2020/06/13/kak-budut-zaseliat-v-nomera-pary-bez-shtampa-v-pasporte.html).

·         In some isolated North Caucasus resorts, visitors are able to self-isolate but continue to act as if nothing were required (kavkazr.com/a/30669884.html).

·         One Russian chemist says that Russians can’t be infected by the coronavirus while in pools because of special chemicals that will kill the virus before it can be transmitted (hmk.ru/social/2020/06/14/ekspert-ocenil-riski-zarazheniya-koronavirusom-v-basseyne.html).

·         Tatarstan calculates that more than a third of the republic’s people would have to be exposed to the virus before the population could achieve collective immunity (business-gazeta.ru/article/471819).

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