Staunton, January 3 – With the turn of the new year, Moscow television’s Vremya news program, from which most Russians get their news, has stopped reporting the number of deaths from the pandemic. It still reports new infections and other pandemic news but not deaths, “as if people aren’t dying,” one observer says (echo.msk.ru/blog/nikolaev_i/2768120-echo/).
The Russian authorities are still putting out this data but now people have to search for it. Today, officials reported registering 24,150 new cases and 502 new deaths, bringing the cumulative totals respectively to 3,236,787 and 58,506 (t.me/COVID2019_official/2302).
But many Russians are suspicious of these figures because the numbers in the two capitals track so closely in terms of rises and falls (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5FF17590D5B6EOne would expect a different pattern at least some of the time, they say.
Meanwhile, even during the holidays, the pandemic continues to ebb and flow with new restrictions still outnumbering relaxations (regnum.ru/news/society/3154313.htmlregnum.ru/news/3156477.html, regnum.ru/news/3156387.html and regnum.ru/news/3156460.html).
Russians are reacting extremely negative to the decision of the Ukrainian authorities not to use the Sputnik-5 vaccine until all tests are completed. They say that Kyiv is acting not on the basis of science but out of Russophobia (regnum.ru/news/3156422.html).
The city of Moscow has opened free vaccinations to additional categories of citizenry (echo.msk.ru/blog/ssobyanin/2768284-echo/). But some Russians may wait until after the holidays given that health officials are saying they shouldn’t drink for at least three days after getting their shots (versia.ru/za-sutki-v-rf-zafiksirovano-24-150-sluchaev-zarazheniya-covid-19-i-504-letalnyx-isxoda).
On the economic front, the news was mixed. Officials said agricultural production had gone up in 2020 despite the pandemic, but polls showed that most Russians are now worried that their jobs may be at risk in 2021 (vz.ru/economy/2021/1/3/1077579.html and svpressa.ru/economy/article/286304/
· A senior Moscow doctor has come out in opposition of closing churches or restricting access to them by the elderly because he says doing either takes from Russians what may be their last hope (newizv.ru/news/society/03-01-2021/lishayut-lyudey-posledney-opory-vrach-myasnikov-protiv-zakrytiya-hramov-na-rozhdestvo).
· Funeral industry workers in Arkhangelsk are collecting more money from the families of those who have died by claiming, incorrectly, that Moscow has introduced a special tax on those who die from the coronavirus (readovka.ru/news/67185).