Staunton, May 25 – There were 8946 new coronavirus cases in Russia today, bringing the total to 353,427 (t.me/COVID2019_official/645); but despite that and warnings that restrictins must remain in place, other officials under pressures from various quarters have been lifting restrictions or promising that they soon will be (tass.ru/ekonomika/8558485, znak.com/2020-05-24/popova_zayavila_chto_polovina_regionov_mozhet_perehodit_k_pervomu_etapu_otmeny_ogranicheniy and capost.media/news/obshchestvo/a-mask-mode-in-russia-will-last-for-another-couple-of-months/).
Many Russians are tired of being confined and, taking their cue from Vladimir Putin who is even now talking about the end of the pandemic in Russia in a few weeks, are pushing the envelope both by violating the quarantine rules and demanding that businesses with their jobs reopen (nakanune.ru/articles/116101/).
Concerns about the economic crisis are displacing fears about the coronavirus for many. Fifty-eight percent of Russians said their pay had fallen since the beginning of the quarantine program (rbc.ru/rbcfreenews/5ec938339a794747806b16fa?from=newsfeed); and Moscow officials say there are a million unemployed in that city alone (mbk-news.appspot.com/suzhet/koronavirus-v-rossii-xronika/).
Among the proposals now circulating in Russia to soften the economic blows, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions has called for the government to pay 3,000 rubles (50 US dollars) for each worker a firm arranges to have work at home (iz.ru/1014362/anna-ivushkina/zatratnoe-daleko-rossiianam-mogut-nachat-vozmeshchat-raskhody-na-udalenke).
Now that Vladimir Putin has signaled that the referendum on constitutional changes will take place at the end of June or shortly thereafter, a debate has broken out about whether it should, how it will be conducted, and the implications of going forward with this vote. Opposition groups say it should be delayed to protect people from infection (ng.ru/politics/2020-05-25/1_7869_constitution.html).
But intriguingly, some who might otherwise oppose holding the vote now profess to see a silver lining in the dark cloud: the government may be forced to accept distance voting and that in turn may save the Internet from being subject to new restrictions in the coming months (ng.ru/editorial/2020-05-25/2_7869_editorial.html).
Meanwhile, other pandemic-related news from Russia today includes:
· Ever more signs are going up thanking medical workers for their service (meduza.io/feature/2020/05/25/the-village-zapustil-sotsialnuyu-reklamu-v-podderzhku-moskovskih-medikov-so-slovami-kotorymi-oni-podbadrivayut-patsientov-fotografii).
Moscow city is now allowing volunteers to return to pet sanctuaries to help the animals survive (echo.msk.ru/blog/ssobyanin/2648847-echo/
· Putin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov has been signed out of the hospital after a regime of treatment for a coronavirus infection (https://t.me/stormdaily/17538). Meanwhile, Tuva Republic head Sholban Kara-oool has entered the hospital following a diagnosis of the infection (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/76650).
· Isolated military bases are being hit hard by the pandemic, including most recently in Severodvinsk (thebarentsobserver.com/en/life-and-public-security/2020/05/big-increase-coronavirus-cases-closed-military-naval-town).
A sociologist says that sex workers in Russsia are among the groups which have suffered the most from the pandemic (gorod-812.ru/virus-i-prostitutsia/