Sunday, May 24, 2020

Coronavirus Deaths in Russia Going Up as Kremlin Sends Mixed Messages about Future

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 22 – Russia set a one-day record as to the number of deaths from the pandemic – at 150 – as officials warned that the numbers will go up in May even as the number of new infections remained roughly the same (

            Many doubt both numbers, but the rising death rate may reflect both a desire by officials to bring statistics into line with what people can see and also a way to undercut Western criticism of Russia’s death numbers (  and

            At the same time, Vladimir Putin led officials in sending mixed messages about the pandemic in Russia. On the one hand, he said things were stabilizing, even predicting an end to all quarantines by June 29 so that all students can take their state examinations (

            Experts agreed that the pandemic is likely to continue well into 2021, necessitating more isolation and other measures that will send the Russian economy down seven to ten percent ( And in an indication officials in fact agree, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin made the wearing of masks obligatory (

            But at the same time, a health ministry research center reported that it had developed a vaccine against the coronavirus that had proved successful in its initial tests on staff there (

            The military draft is facing difficulties as officers struggle to prevent anyone infected from being taken into the ranks ( Russians in many places are ignoring official orders to take steps against the virus and in some cases, the officials are being compelled to reimpose restrictions they had just lifted (,, and

            Russian media are giving prominent coverage to a Bloomberg news agency projection that the Russian economy will plummet more as a result of current problems than it did in the 1990s ( And surveys appear to confirm that with only 1 in seven small and mid-sized firms confident they’ll survive (

            In response, Putin declared that in his view, the coronavirus will soon cease to be the focus of attention and that Russians, including himself will be focusing first and foremost on economic recovery ( And the Duma approved a new aid package primarily directed at businesses (

            Meanwhile, in other pandemic news from Russia:

·         St. Petersburg officials debated whether to accept an offer of coronavirus aid from Hamburg (

·         Mufti Ismail Berdiyev was evacuated from the North Caucasus to a Moscow hospital for treatment of the infection (

·         Pandemic conspiracy theories are rife across Russia, but the Moscow Times has singled out North Ossetia as a place where they are especially widespread (

·         Moscow detention facilities are so full of infections that jailors have decided to close them again (

·         But a Karelian court has refused to release Yuri Dmitriyev from a detention facility there even though his lawyers presented evidence that he is at great risk of contracting the virus if he is kept there (

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