Staunton, June 21 – Experts surveyed by the URA news agency say that the pandemic may have changed forever the way in which Vladimir Putin interacts with his officials and with the Russian people, ending the large meetings and television broadcasts he had favored with Internet-based communications and shorter clips (ura.news/articles/1036280470).
On the one hand, this may leave the Kremlin leader more isolated and less influential than he has been; but on the other, these experts suggest, it may open the way for more targeted communications and even the participation of individuals and groups far from Moscow in discussions.
They suggest that Putin is unlikely to go back to the pattern he employed before the pandemic and consequently argue that this pandemic-driven change in his behavior may play a large role in Putin’s political strategy in the future. Two things haven’t changed in the Kremlin’s behavior.
On the one hand, Putin continues to hand out medals, this time to medical workers, for their contributions to the fight against the coronavirus even though he has not provided hospitals with the help they need (echo.msk.ru/news/2664097-echo.html). And on the other, the Kremlin keeps looking for some magic bullet that will end the plague.
Now its officials are saying that warmer summer weather will lead to a decline in infections, even though the numbers being reported remain high (ura.news/articles/1036280462). Today, 7728 new infections were reported by officials, as were 109 new deaths, bringing that total to 8111 (t.me/COVID2019_official/857).
Despite these increases, however, Moscow officials remained upbeat and announced that they will soon be reopening restaurants and cafes (interfax.ru/moscow/714088). Such announcements will likely lead in Russia to what they have led in other countries: a relaxation in public discipline and new spikes in the number of infections and deaths.
Also today, Finanz.ru provided a summary of official economic data, showing massive and continuing declines in all sectors, with personal consumption hit especially hard but oil and gas revenues both down significantly and projected to remain that way (finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/rossiyskaya-ekonomika-zalegla-na-dno-1029327649 and krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/77303).
And if Russia did not have enough to worry about, police report that there has been an upsurge in counterfeiting in Moscow, as criminals seek to compensate for the decline in their incomes by printing and circulating false bank notes (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/77488).
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