Staunton, October 16 – Last spring, the pandemic hit Moscow and the major cities hard while leaving many regions largely untouched. Then, the situation in the megalopolises improved but conditions elsewhere deteriorated sharply. Now, consumer affairs chief Anna Popova says, it is hitting all regions of Russia with much the same ferocity (lenta.ru/news/2020/10/16/odnomom/).
On the one hand, that makes fighting the coronavirus easier because increasingly everyone sees the threat as more or less the same. But on the other, it is overwhelming many places where the system has been “optimized” to the point of ineffectiveness.
This trend also means that increasingly the coronavirus divide in Russia is not between regions and the center but between members of privileged classes and everyone else. The former are being taken care of, while the latter are being left in many cases to fend for themselves (dailystorm.ru/vlast/vernulis-k-vesennim-protokolam-kak-pervye-lica-gosudarstva-zashchishchayutsya-ot-koronavirusa and mk.ru/social/2020/10/16/virusolog-nazval-amoralnoy-raznicu-v-lechenii-prostykh-i-bogatykh-rossiyan.html).
Better-off Russians can take care of themselves while the others cannot, a divide that is being exacerbated by the decision of the government to begin cutting back in government support for healthcare in the midst of the pandemic in order to help balance the budget even as Moscow increases taxes overall (regnum.ru/news/3091829.html and finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/putin-podpisal-tri-zakona-o-povyshenii-nalogov-1029685784).
This division helps to explain why those who favor shutdowns to fight the coronavirus and those who oppose them lest they damage the economy are increasingly digging in and unwilling to compromise with each other, economist Vladislav Inozemtsev says (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5F88A164B796D
The numbers are staggering. According to the government monitoring center, Russia recorded 15,150 new cases of infection and 232 additional deaths in the last 24 hours, figures that push the respective totals to 1,369,313 and 23,723 (t.me/COVID2019_official/1755). Moscow alone saw 5,049 new cases of infection and 52 new deaths (t.me/COVID2019_official/1752).
Ever more places across Russia saw new restrictions put in place, including shifting to distance learning in the schools even though Moscow denies it plans to do so (regnum.ru/news/society/3088420.html and rg.ru/2020/10/16/minprosveshcheniia-planov-po-perevodu-shkol-na-udalenku-net.html
Prices for the favorite over-the-counter medicine to be used against the coronavirus have fallen by more than half to 5500 rubles (70 US dollars) (novayagazeta.ru/news/2020/10/16/164973-fas-pachka-tabletok-ot-covid-19-s-nedokazannoy-effektivnostyu-budet-stoit-okolo-5-5-tysyach-rubley).
On the economic front, tax collections are falling rapidly as business activity and incomes drop (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/80889), Russians have had their hours reduced rather than losing their jobs (regnum.ru/news/3091241.html), and ever more of them have taken out loans they find themselves unable to repay (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/80891).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
Penal officials have declared that they will not take in any more detainees at all but one of the 26 facilities in Moscow because of the pandemic ( tass.ru/obschestvo/9736973
· Russian officials are giving permission for ever more public activities despite the pandemic but they are invoking the pandemic as justification for prohibiting all demonstrations, including individual ones (svobodaradio.livejournal.com/4678058.html