Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Putin Seeks Maximum Political Advantage from Promised Coronavirus Bonuses

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 28 – Vladimir Putin is seeking maximum political advantage from the bonuses he has promised healthcare workers by delaying the payout until early on the morning of the July 1 vote on the constitutional amendments (znak.com/2020-06-28/prf_otpravit_rossiyanam_novye_putinskie_vyplaty_rano_utrom_1_iyulya_v_posledniy_den_golosovaniya).

            Putin said today Russians should not dramatize the country’s problems but instead take pride in the fact that Russia today is taking care of itself rather than relying on handouts as in the 1990s (novayagazeta.ru/news/2020/06/28/162626-ya-by-zdes-nichego-ne-dramatiziroval-takoe-byvaet-putin-ob-yasnil-problemy-s-vyplatami-za-lechenie-patsientov-s-covid-19-chelovecheskim-faktorom and kp.ru/daily/27148.5/4243685/).

            Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova gave an equally upbeat assessment. The first six weeks of the pandemic were the hardest, she said during a television interview; but now things are getting better and better (ura.news/news/1052438362).

            Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said that “nothing horrible” will happen when the country opens up, perhaps the case in his city where there are numerous hospitals to treat new cases but not in the regions where Putin’s optimization has left many places without facilities (znak.com/2020-06-28/sobyanin_posle_snyatiya_ogranicheniy_po_covid_19_v_moskve_nichego_uzhasnogo_ne_proizoshlo and krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/77707).

            Other officials announced that the testing of possible vaccines against the coronavirus was being speeded up in the hopes of having one available for the population in the next few months (versia.ru/v-rossii-za-sutki-vyyavlen-6791-sluchaj-zarazheniya-koronavirusom-i-104-letalnyx-isxoda).

            The central registry reported that Russia had registered 6791 new cases over the last 24 hours, bringing the cumulative total to 634.437. It also said that there had been 104 deaths from the coronavirus during that period, raising that total to 9.073 (стопкоронавирус.рф/information/). In some places, there were significant declines but in others, including occupied Crimea large increases (svobodaradio.livejournal.com/4471827.html).

            Because of declines in the number of cases or pressure from the powers and the people, “more than 70 Russian regions” will begin accepting tourists from other parts of the country as of July 1 (ren.tv/news/v-rossii/716901-mishustin-bolee-70-regionov-rossii-smogut-prinimat-turistov-s-1-iiulia). Infections in Tuva are spiking but not as much as some foreign outlets are saying, Russian commentators suggest (club-rf.ru/17/theme/533).

            In Sakhalin, officials have lifted the ban on mass meetings (eastrussia.ru/news/massovye-meropriyatiya-razreshili-provodit-na-sakhaline/), but elsewhere, restrictions can’t be easily lifted because there are no medical facilities to treat people or even water for them  to wash their hands regularly (severreal.org/a/30693850.html).

            The economy continued to sink, with Russians changing their habits in response, cutting back on consumption and increasing savings in case the situation becomes even worse, Russian economists and other experts say (ura.news/news/1052438365).

            Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments from Russia,

·         The government has decided to create a reserve of 300 million face masks (tass.ru/ekonomika/8841769).

·         Schools will reopen as planned on September 1, officials say (ura.news/news/1052438530).

·         Most of the several million Muscovites who fled the city at the start of the pandemic will eventually return but not before the end of the summer dacha season.  Some fraction, however, will remain beyond the ring road having discovered that they can do their work online just as well and live far more cheaply outside the city (rosbalt.ru/moscow/2020/06/28/1850804.html).

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