Thursday, June 18, 2020

In Current Crisis, Russia’s Wealthy Set to Flee Abroad, Middle Class Sinking into New Poor, and Workers Reduced to Penury

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 16 – Wealthy Russians are acquiring passports for foreign countries so that they can go abroad if things continue to get worse (, but the shrinking middle class and the even poorer workers don’t have that opportunity.

            With rising unemployment, the middle class is becoming “the new poor” and the poor are no longer able to afford even the most basic foods such as meat, even as the authorities refuse to come to their aid as opposed to helping the biggest corporations and the allies of the Kremlin (

            Those at the very top meanwhile are being taken care of. While Vladimir Putin pushes officials to reopen so he can have his parade and referendum, he remains in his bunker, which has now been fitted with a special disinfecting “tunnel” so that he won’t be exposed to the virus he isn’t fighting to protect others from (

            Today brought more disturbing news about the pandemic and about the Russian economy. The Russian government registered 8248 new cases of infection and 193 new deaths from it, pushing the latter figure to a cumulative total of 7248 (

            But ever more evidence came in showing that these figures are significant undercounts, with the actual numbers being far more infections and nearly twice as many deaths if one includes deaths from people with coronavirus-symptoms who were never diagnosed as having the disease (

            Yet another official practice driving down the numbers is this: Officials in yet another federal subject (Buryatia) have announced that they have ceased to include in the count of those diagnosed as having the disease anyone who is asymptomatic, likely depressing the number of Russians infected by a factor of at least two (

            One interesting statistical quirk: Experts have discovered that the number of Russians who say they have been cured of the coronavirus rises on weekends and falls during the work week, possibly reflecting a kind of self-reporting that may also have an impact on the official figures (

            Most figures about the pandemic and the economic crisis available are for the Russian Federation as a whole, but ever more people are recognizing just how much variation there is not only between Moscow and the rest of Russia but among the various oblasts, krays, and republics which form the federation.

            New research shows, for example, that while infections and deaths appear to be falling in Moscow, they are going up in many other places. But because the government focuses on the capital often neglecting everything else, the Putin regime is making decisions on the basis of Moscow statistics and deciding it needn’t help other regions (

            Even the fines that the authorities have handled out for isolation violations have varied,  with half of them being levied in just 11 regions even though officials report the pandemic has spread to all of them. Among the hardest hit or best enforced were Tatarstan, Krasnodar Kray and Daghestan ( and

            Moscow officials have lifted most restrictions but warn that others will remain in place until mid-July (, while elsewhere officials say that many restrictions will have to remain in place until next year (россия/20200616-в-россии-не-планируют-снимать-связанные-с-эпидемией-ограничения-раньше-2021-года).

            The number of Russian federal subjects whose leaders have said they will not hold victory parades because of the epidemiological situation has now passed 30 ( But one head, in occupied Crimea, after saying he would cancel has now reversed himself (

            Russian officials have said that veterans who attend the all-Russian parade on Red Square do not need to wear masks, apparently so as not to undercut the upbeat message that Putin wants them to send by their presence (

            As bad as the state of the pandemic in Russia is, that of the economy is if anything still worse. Inflation will rise at least five percent and possibly much more as the country comes out of isolation, economists say ( The ten percent decline in the economy has hit all sectors (

And new May figures for exports and imports are disastrous down in some cases by more than 60 percent, with no prospect they will recover significantly anytime soon. Foreign travel by Russians fell 96.9 percent from a year earlier ( And the Central Bank says the slight uptick at the end of May has ended and has been followed by an even sharper fall (

Economists are making even more dire predictions not only for economic activity but also for unemployment, with some saying that the declines over the next several months may put the September elections at risk of being cancelled because of rising popular anger ( and

And the economic crisis just like the pandemic has an important regional dimension that is often overlooked. While Moscow has been hard hit economically, the economic declines in many regions are unprecedented in the history of Russia since Soviet times, statistics show (

Meanwhile, in other crisis-related news from Russia today,

·         Rosstat reported that births declined while deaths increased in the first four months of 2020 compared to the year before. As a result, Russia suffered another loss of population of 160,300 year on year. Deaths increased by 12,000, the number some experts say equals the losses from the coronavirus pandemic (

·         Russia’s health ministry has given approval for human testing of a possible coronavirus vaccine (

·         Russia has no set of laws regulating people working at home rather than in their offices or workplaces. The Duma today began consideration of bills that would rectify that and provide some protection for those forced to engage in distance working (

No comments:

Post a Comment