Staunton, June 18 – Now that nearly half of the federal subjects have decided not to have a Victory parade on July 24, the remaining ones are moving toward a compromise solution less likely to anger Vladimir Putin: going ahead with a parade displaying military equipment but doing so without any audience along the route (severreal.org/a/30677959.html and vestikavkaza.ru/news/parad-pobedy-projdet-v-novorossijske-bez-zritelej.html).
Cancellations and this hybrid approach, as well as the likelihood that many will stay away regardless will only highlight that the pandemic is continuing whatever Putin says and that local and regional leaders are less prepared than he and the Moscow elites around him are to see the numbers of those who will be infected and die continue to rise.
And even those regional leaders who are going to hold parades are saying things that may backfire: Buryatia’s Aleksey Tsydenov, for example, says that the 75th anniversary of the Victory shows that “We defeated fascists and we have defeated the coronavirus,” a claim that those around him can see is not yet true (instagram.com/p/CBiOG_HpBkn/).
But that is certainly the upbeat message the Kremlin wants delivered. Today, otherwise responsible officials declared that the pandemic in Russia was “under control “ (vestikavkaza.ru/news/popova-nazvala-situaciu-s-koronavirusom-upravlaemoj.html), that Russia is set to avoid a second wave (vestikavkaza.ru/news/golikova-vtoraa-volna-koronavirusa-mozet-obojti-rossiu-storonoj.htmlvestikavkaza.ru/news/tatana-golikova-proizvodstvo-vakciny-ot-koronavirusa-mozet-nacatsa-v-avguste.html and vestikavkaza.ru/news/vakcinu-ot-koronavirusa-nacali-ispytyvat-na-ludah.html).
But the daily toll calls all of this into question: 7790 new cases were officially registered bringing the cumulative total to 561,091, the number of deaths rose by 182 to 7660, officials confirmed that 489 Russian doctors have now died from the disease, and the Duma leadership conceded that “more than 30” members have become infected (t.me/COVID2019_official/838, rns.online/society/Roszdravnadzor-poyasnil-dannie-o-smertnosti-medikov-ot-koronavirusa-2020-06-18/, and gazeta.ru/politics/2020/06/18_a_13121443.shtml).
While Moscow officials said the number of regions where the situation was critical had declined to only 13 (vestikavkaza.ru/news/rospotrebnadzor-nazval-cislo-regionov-s-opasnoj-situaciej-po-koronavirusu.html), an independent survey found infection rates rising and officials unprepared to respond in many more (rosbalt.ru/russia/2020/06/18/1849584.html).
Faced with this situation, officials at the center responded as one might have expected: they said there was no evidence that loosening up on restrictions had led to any increase in the number of coronavirus cases in any region (vestikavkaza.ru/news/misustin-oslablenie-ogranicenij-v-regionah-rossii-ne-privodit-k-rostu-cisla-zarazenij-covid-19.html
The economic news if anything was even worse, both absolutely and in contrast to official claims to the contrary. A FinExpertiza study concluded that Russians saw there average incomes drop by 21.9 percent in April and said that they will leave the pandemic far poorer than they were before it came (ehorussia.com/new/node/21000).
But deputy finance minister Aleksey Sazanov said the government didn’t have the resources to help them much (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/77351), especially now that falling oil prices means the state’s income has fallen significantly and is unlikely to recover anytime soon (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/77340
Recognizing that the government isn’t going to help them and that the crisis is going to be prolonged, Russians are ever more frequently allowing their standard of living to decline rather than taking out short-term loans to try to maintain their lifestyles, according to a new poll (vestikavkaza.ru/news/rossiane-naucilis-zit-na-zarplatu-socopros.html).
And Russian businesses hurting from the pandemic and the economic crisis have completed restructuring 2.5 trillion rubles (40 billion US dollars) in loans as they struggle to survive and banks decide that it is better to restructure than to lose everything (vestikavkaza.ru/news/postradavsim-iz-za-pandemii-predpriatiam-restrukturirovali-dolgi-na-25-trl-rublej.html).
Meanwhile, other pandemic-related news from Russia today includes:
The FSB is profiting from the sale of face masks because it owns one of the domestic factories that produces them (https://tayga.info/156186
· Coronavirus restrictions on funeral arrangements in the North Caucasus where such rites are a key part of social life (https://nazaccent.ru/content/33416-karantin-v-familnom-sklepe-i-perchatki.html).