Staunton, May 16 – By its hyperbolic reaction to reports in Western media that the number of deaths from the coronavirus pandemic is far larger than Russian officials say, the Kremlin is implicitrly confirming that truthfulness of these Western reports and the falsehood of its own claims (censoru.net/2020/05/16/isterika-kremlja-svidetelstvuet-chto-dela-sovsem-plohi.html).
Today, Moscow officials said there were 9200 more coronavirus infections in Russia, bringing the cumulative total to 272,000 but said only 119 more people had died from the coronavirus, bringing that total to 2537 (versia.ru/v-rossii-za-sutki-zaregistrirovano-9200-novyx-sluchaev-zarazheniya-koronavirusom, club-rf.ru/news/57197 and sibreal.org/a/30615524.html).
The low death rate is being touted by the Kremlin as evidence of its medical prowess and even cultural superiority, and consequently any suggestion that there is an undercount of deaths enrages those in charge, especially since the Kremlin is urging making that success a centerpiece of propaganda to boost Vladimir Putin’s reputation (mbk-news.appspot.com/suzhet/vyrazheny-sushhestvennye/ and vz.ru/society/2020/5/16/1039609.html).
Statistics on coronavirus infections and deaths are problematic in any country given that the numbers of infections and deaths ascribed to them depends on the amount of testing and the willingness or even ability to ascribe mortality to the pandemic when infections manifest themselves in so many ways.
That is why some Western leaders have dragged their feet on testing, pointing out that their countries would have a better reputation if there were no tests performed. But Russia is testing ever more widely, thereby increasing the number of infections, although Russian doctors and health officials are under obvious pressure not to ascribe deaths to these infections.
That is what Russian doctors and health experts have been pointing out for some time. But Moscow’s reaction to Financial Times and New York Times stories summarizing the basis of their reports has enraged the Kremlin which prefers to lie and insists that others accept or at least not challenge its deceptions (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/05/putin-regime-constantly-lies-and-seeks.html).
At the same time, Russian officials are insisting that they will have a vaccine against the coronavirus by the end of the summer, something a few other world leaders have also claimed but that experts on virology say would be a miracle given the long development time needed for any vaccines against such a foe (lenta.ru/news/2020/05/16/vectt/).
Other coronavirus pandemic stories from Russia over the last 24 hours include:
· Russians may now be fined up to 40,000 rubles (600 US dollars) if they refuse to be tested (newsru.com/russia/16may2020/test_shtraf.html).
· Experts are predicting new spikes in coronavirus infections in the regions if governors loosen restrictions soon (ura.news/news/1052431996).
· Unemployed immigrant workers from Central Asia and the Caucasus clashed with police (censoru.net/2020/05/16/migranty-ustroili-bunt-na-moskovskom-nachalis-stolknovenija-s-policiej-video.html). Migrants are angry that Russian hospitals are refusing to treat them (24.kg/vlast/152873_vrossii_zarazivshihsya_koronavirusom_migrantov_neprinimayut_bolnitsyi_/).
· Doctors have joined other medical workers in protesting the fact that the Russian government hasn’t paid them the supplements Putin promised (znak.com/2020-05-16/rossiyskie_vrachi_massovo_zhaluyutsya_chto_ne_poluchili_obechannye_putinym_vyplaty_za_covid_19). Some medical personnel are now refusing to treat coronavirus victims (severreal.org/a/30605616.html).
· More bomb threats have been received by the Moscow metro and hospitals where coronavirus patients are being treated. None has proved true (mk.ru/incident/2020/05/16/v-moskve-zaminirovali-vse-stancii-metro-i-infekcionnye-bolnicy.html).
The pandemic is spreading rapidly through Russian psychiatric hospitals (mk.ru/social/2020/05/16/v-psikhbolnicakh-rasskazali-o-massovykh-zarazheniyakh-dengi-nuzhny-no-zhit-khochetsya.html
· Every new bed for the treatment of coronavirus victims that has been supplied by the defense ministry has cost the Russian taxpayers 800,000 rubles (13,000 US dollars) far more than if they had been supplied by other agencies (natpressru.info/index.php?newsid=12004).
· Psychologists are now predicting that the extended self-isolation regimes will mean that after the pandemic passes, a large number of Russians will suffer from agoraphobia and be unable to interact with others normally without treatment (ura.news/news/1052432016).