Sunday, May 31, 2020

Putin Misread Pandemic and Now His ‘Vertical’ is Dissolving, Morozov Says

Paul Goble
            Staunton, May 29 – Vladimir Putin has failed to recognize the threats posed by the pandemic from the very beginning in part because his own policies mean he hasn’t been given accurate information, Aleksandr Morozov says; and his responses have simultaneously accelerated and exacerbated the collapse of his power vertical.

            As a result, the Moscow commentator says, the Kremlin leader has lost control over the various parts of the Russian government which are increasingly acting “without coordination.” That is something everyone can see; and having seen it, they no longer believe that he is in effective charge (

            This perception is creating “a new political situation,” one that is filled “with new risks”
not only for Putin but for the country, as elites and the population seek to figure out how they can go forward if the Kremlin no longer is in a position to exercise the effective control Putin has strived for over the past two decades.

            The pandemic isn’t going away: Again today, some 8572 new cases of the coronavirus were registered, bringing the total to 387,623 (, but perhaps the most worrisome development is that for the first time in some days, the number of new infections exceeded the number of people declared cured (

            Other Russian officials are having problems as well. Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin has become a figure of anger and dismissive contempt for his draconian rules about public walking and his predictions that the quarantine measures will have to be kept in place for a long time (,  and

            Muscovites might have accepted the restrictions if Sobyanin’s regime had been able to live up to its promises to protect them by providing free testing. It hasn’t, and they aren’t ( and

            Unemployment in the Russian Federation is rising rapidly while the country’s GDP is falling further ( and Russians and companies are falling deeper into debt and more bankruptcies are expected (  and

            New figures show that the service sector is the hardest hit, something that means the economic crisis is hurting the Russian people even more than the Russian government and adding to their fears and angers ( In many places, incomes have fallen a third or more (

Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related news from Russia,

·         An Accounting Chamber report suggesting that many official claims about oil and gas reserves are fake means that the Kremlin won’t be able to rely on them to power a recovery (

·         Moscow has slowed and will likely have to postpone for a long time to come many of its national infrastructure projects, something that reflects the Kremlin’s unwillingness to spend reserves or take on new debt to boost demand as a means of overcoming the crisis (

·         The situation in Daghestan is known to be bad, but in fact, it is even worse than Moscow is acknowledging because many residents who should be diagnosed as having the coronavirus are being falsely listed as suffering only from pneumonia (

·         Russian officials want to fine those who refuse to get immunization shots, something that could spark new tensions if any vaccine for the coronavirus is developed and deployed (

·         Many had assumed that the numerically small peoples of the North were relatively safe from the spread of the pandemic because of their highly dispersed populations, but new studies suggest they may be even more at risk because inadequate diet, high rates of alcohol consumption, and unsanitary conditions (  and

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