Staunton, October 2 – The coronavirus pandemic continues to ebb and flow across the Russian Federation, but the increases are getting more attention because 60 percent of them have been in the city of Moscow, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova says (sovsekretno.ru/news/golikova-nazvala-otlichiya-vtoroy-volny-koronavirusa/).
Moscow’s responses – school holidays, sending 50 percent of government employees home, and imposing large fines for companies that don’t send at least 30 percent of their staff to work at home – are having two consequences for Russia as a whole: sparking fears that the regions will soon face the same spikes and prompting officials to copy what Moscow is doing.
That is leading to the spread of “the specter of quarantine” across the country (svpressa.ru/society/article/277527/, forcing officials to deny that they plan to impose one and will do so only if the situation deteriorates, something they are increasingly inclined to blame on the failure of the Russian people themselves (regnum.ru/news/3080129.html).
Golikova for example points out that 80 to 85 percent of Russians who have become infected were not wearing masks or maintaining social distance at the time they were infected (regnum.ru/news/society/3077734.htmlregnum.ru/news/3079971.html
t.me/COVID2019_official/1627). That the real numbers are higher in both cases few doubt.
Feeding such conclusions are a new report by Rosstat that 45,000 Russians died from the coronavirus up to the end of August far more than twice the figure the Russian government has been using (echo.msk.ru/news/2718983-echo.html).
The pandemic is hitting different regions and different sectors very differently. Teachers are among the ones becoming infected now more than others, prompting suggestions that schools will go to distance learning rather than return from the fall holidays mid-October (openmedia.io/news/n2/uzhe-za-pervuyu-nedelyu-sentyabrya-kovidom-zaboleli-bolee-1000-uchitelej-oni-sami-vinovaty-zayavil-rospotrebnadzor/ and regnum.ru/news/3080101.html).
Russian government media have played up a statement by the WHO opposing a new lockdown as counterproductive (regnum.ru/news/3080542.html), but these same media have carried articles warning risk groups like the elderly to self-isolate already, leading many to conclude that more restrictions will be on the way soon (regnum.ru/news/3079783.html).
The news on the economic front continued to be grim. Rosstat confirmed that the Russian GDP had fallen eight percent during the second quarter compared to a year earlier (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5F7773824A226), the government’s bankruptcy holiday extension means that many other companies which are owed won’t get paid (regnum.ru/news/3080389.html), and having people work from home is pushing down spending on goods and services (regnum.ru/news/3079749.html).
One especially depressing detail: restrictions are killing off many of the movie theaters in Moscow. If there is a new shutdown, dozens of them are projected to close forever, industry officials say (iarex.ru/news/77794.html).
The Russian authorities continue to use the pandemic to impose tighter controls on the population, Freedom House says in a new report (svoboda.org/a/30869999.html). The latest example: Magas has refused to allow a demonstration in support of Ingush political prisoners (fortanga.info/2020/10/myakiev-ne-soglasovali/).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments from Russia today,
· Vladimir Putin has send a message to President Donald Trump wishing him speedy recovery from the coronavirus (regnum.ru/news/3080041.html).
· Just Russia head Sergey Mironov has called for the establishment of a free service to provide testing for the coronavirus and other infectious diseases (regnum.ru/news/3079894.html).
· And Russia’s leading political cartoonist, Sergey Yolkin, has published a cartoon showing a man marooned on a deserted island expressing dismay that he has been told he must work at home for weeks to come (newprospect.ru/sergey-yolkin-o-vtoroy-volne-epidemii).