Staunton, July 2 – Officials and scholars continue to dispute whether Russia will be fortunate enough to escape a second wave of the pandemic once the first one ebbs, but no one should be under any illusion that the country will manage to escape a second wave of the deepening economic crisis, Sergey Anureyev says.
The economist at the Plekhanov Economics University in Moscow says that is because many of the arrangements now being made to address the first wave create budgetary imbalances and other obstacles that will lead to new economic problems in the future even if they aid the situation now (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/77808).
Three trends provide support for Anureyev’s argument. First, the Russian Central Bank’s decision to lower a key rate may win popular support, but this populist measure will do nothing to reduce unemployment or improve the standard of living of Russians, economist Valentin Katasonov says (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/77830).
Second, the Russian government’s inability to recover as fast as other countries means that it will be a less attractive place for outsiders to invest, making future growth more difficult, and that the country’s currency will suffer relative to other national currencies and make purchases of needed foreign equipment more difficult (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/77818).
And third, while Russia’s regions as a whole do not show major budgetary shortfalls, some are vastly over-extended and there is no central program to correct that. As a result, bottlenecks for the development of the economy are likely and hit even places now doing relatively well (vedomosti.ru/economics/articles/2020/07/02/833890-regionah-obostryaetsya).
While this is being debated, the coronavirus continues to hit Russia hard: 6760 new cases of infection were registered in the last 24 hours, bringing the cumulative total to 661,165; and the number of deaths from the coronavirus rose by another 147 to 9683 as of today (t.me/COVID2019_official/941).
Two indications that the pandemic is far from over are reports of new hotspots in various parts of the country, including in hospitals (instagram.com/yuri_kikenov/rbc.ru/business/02/07/2020/5efdabea9a79470ab7faf9f2?from=newsfeed).
But what is especially worrisome is that pace the state-controlled media, infections are up in places where restrictions have been lifted; and medical experts fear that they will continue to rise for some time, especially if Russians conclude on the basis of the declaration of their leaders that the crisis is past.
One warning against such complacency comes from Sverdlovsk oblast where Izolda Drobina, a journalist of Novaya Gazeta, says infections are rising rapidly and that “Tsar Covid-19 is continuing the war,” whatever politicians choose to say, and claiming new victims (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/07/02/86122-tsar-kovid-19-y-prodolzhaet-voynu).
Meanwhile, in Putin’s hybrid country, the problems created by the pandemic are increasingly ending up in the courts. Prosecutors have brought charges in two regions against those they say have by their actions spread the disease (tass.ru/proisshestviya/8871243); and the newly unemployed are seeking redress (vedomosti.ru/economics/articles/2020/07/02/833885-krizisa-uvolen).