Staunton, July 17 – Russia may become “the first country which will produce a coronavirus vaccine,” Kirill Dmitriyev, director of the Direct Investment Foundation says (regnum.ru/news/society/3009195.html). And Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov adds that Russia is among the leaders in the race for a vaccine (https://regnum.ru/news/3012962.html).
Senior Russian officials continued to be upbeat in claiming that Russia has passed the peak of the epidemic, but some analysts dispute that given rising rates of infection in several places around the country, in particular the Altay Kray and Tyva (asiarussia.ru/news/24828/, capost.media/news/obshchestvo/expert-russia-has-passed-the-peak-of-infection-with-coronavirus/ and https://regnum.ru/news/3013125.html).
Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin was particularly upbeat saying that 60 percent of his city’s residents had immunity as a result of having been infected earlier, a figure many dispute because the government said earlier this week that the figure for the Russian capital was only 22 percent (ria.ru/20200717/1574492549.html and regnum.ru/news/3013380.html).
Medical specialists said that it is “too early” to loosen restrictions and expressed concern that many Russians are taking official declarations too literally and no longer wearing facemasks, observing social distance, or washing their hands on a regular basis. As a result, new outbreaks are increasingly likely (kp.ru/daily/27157.5/4254922/).
There is evidence that such outbreaks are already happening in some vacation destinations, including resorts on the Black Sea coast in and around Sochi (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/351982/).
And in a signal that he believes the pandemic is over in Russia and that the government won’t have to do anything more to aid the Russian population, Vladimir Putin said that while “in certain countries, the size of help was much greater, we had exactly the amount we wanted” (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/78286).
To maintain public optimism or at least acceptance of official statements, Russian prosecutors began a crackdown on any who expressed pessimism or doubts about the government’s position on the pandemic (mbk-news.appspot.com/news/roskomnadzor-resh/ and facebook.com/AlanMamiev17/posts/3202227673167023?_rdc=1&_rdr).
Today, Russia registered 6406 new cases of the infection, bringing the cumulative total to 759,203, and 186 additional deaths, bringing that total since the start of the pandemic to 12,123 (t.me/COVID2019_official/1063). New coronavirus figures were issued for the military: more than 7900 uniformed personnel have been infected (regnum.ru/news/3013435.html).
Moscow Oblast announced that it would begin the third stage of reopening next week (ria.ru/20200717/1574491773.html), and Health Minister Mikhail Murashko continued to push for a restoration of international air traffic (echo.msk.ru/news/2677947-echo.html). But deteriorating infection numbers forced Buryatia to cancel summer vacation programs (regnum.ru/news/3012877.html).
Strikes by immigrant workers in Moscow and St. Petersburg attracted new attention to that group in the population (nazaccent.ru/content/33639-stroiteli-migranty-ustroili-zabastovku-v-peterburge.html). Officials said migrants are committing fewer crimes than indigenous Russians and are following pandemic guidelines more carefully (meduza.io/feature/2020/07/16/kak-zhivut-migranty-v-rossii-chem-obernulsya-dlya-nih-koronavirus-i-kakie-stereotipy-na-samom-dele-neverny and nazaccent.ru/content/33636-ekspert-migranty-luchshe-rossiyan-soblyudali-karantin.html).
Russian economists said the economy had declined 10 percent in the latest quarter but dismissed Western projections that it would take the country years to recover (vz.ru/economy/2020/7/17/1050296.html and ehorussia.com/new/node/21216)> Mayor Sobyanin insisted his city’s economy would be restored within six months (kp.ru/daily/27157.5/4254979/).
Real incomes continued to fall, and official unemployment rose to 6.2 percent, the highest it has been since 2012 when it stood at 6.5 percent (finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/realnye-dokhody-rossiyan-rukhnuli-rekordno-s-1990kh-1029405928 and mbk-news.appspot.com/news/uroven-bezr/).
Two Moscow banks failed, one of which did not insure the deposits of customers (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5F117A062A175), and Russians continued to withdraw their savings at record rates (finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/rossiyane-vynesli-so-vkladov-v-bankakh-eshche-104-milliarda-rubley-1029405098 http://www.kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5F117A062A175).
Economists say rising gas prices will hurt up to 40 percent of the population (ura.news/news/1052441229), and good prices are likely to go up and exports of such commodities fall because of a serious drought in many parts of Russia (znak.com/2020-07-17/agrarii_soobchayut_o_kolossalnyh_poteryah_urozhaya_v_regionah_rossii_iz_za_zasuhi).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related news from Russia today,
· The pandemic has led journalists to uncover just how deep the cuts to Russia’s medial system were under Putin’s “optimization” campaign, cuts that some say mean that child mortality in the country is 50 to 100 percent greater than the European average (forum-msk.org/material/news/16578272.html).
· Distance learning because of the pandemic has left more than half of Russian children without adequate exercise (regnum.ru/news/society/3013247.html).
· And more reports have been coming in of a worrying increase in the amount of family violence during the self-isolation period (meduza.io/feature/2020/07/17/vo-vremya-karantina-v-rossii-rezko-vyros-uroven-domashnego-nasiliya-chislo-zhalob-podskochilo-vdvoe-a-vlasti-ne-smogli-effektivno-zaschitit-zhertv).
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