Staunton, September 19 – The pandemic has introduced major changes in Russian government policy but perhaps not one greater than this: for the first time in a very long time, the Russian government has spent more on promoting the economy than on maintaining and developing its military (sobkorr.org/news/5F6610F248362.html).
The number of new cases of infection registered by the government rose above 6,000 for the first time since July 19 with 6,095. The number of deaths also rose to 144, bringing the respective cumulative totals to 1,097,251 and 19,369 (https://snob.ru/health/za-sutki-v-rossii-vyyavili-bolee-shesti-tysyach-novyh-sluchaev-koronavirusa/).
This spike and reports of the reimposition of draconian controls in some parts of the country (regnum.ru/news/society/3064298.html and echo.msk.ru/news/2711797-echo.html) are sparking fears that Russia now faces a second wave of the pandemic; but experts say that is not the case.
Instead, they argue, Russia’s enormous size means that the pandemic ebbs and flows from one part of the country to another, a different pattern than in smaller European countries where the entire population has tended to fall ill and then recover at much the same time (ura.news/news/1052450438).
The Russian vaccine remains controversial. One Russian doctor says that those who are pushing to vaccinate the population before full testing of the drug should be subject to criminal sanctions (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/80187). And outrage is spreading about the high cost of anti-coronavirus over-the-counter medications (nakanune.ru/news/2020/9/18/22584020/, regnum.ru/news/3068182.html and regnum.ru/news/3068069.html).
On the economic front, the purchasing power of average Russians has sunk to a ten-year low (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/80195), but there is some improvement in the business climate although almost half of all Russian firms are still operating at a loss (newizv.ru/news/economy/19-09-2020/podnyavshiesya-so-dna-karantinnaya-panika-u-biznesa-smenilas-na-robkiy-optimizm).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments from Russia today,
· One-quarter of all Russians say they would like to keep their savings in dollars rather than rubles, an indication that they expect devaluation (newizv.ru/news/economy/19-09-2020/chetvert-rossiyskih-vkladchikov-gotovy-perevesti-vse-svoi-sberezheniya-v-dollary).
· The health ministry is considering requiring all Russians who plan to travel abroad to be vaccinated, another indication that Moscow’s commitment to a voluntary approach on the vaccine may be slipping (znak.com/2020-09-19/glavnyy_infekcionist_minzdrava_vyskazalsya_za_obyazatelnuyu_vakcinaciyu_turistov_ot_covid_19).
· Doctors across Russia plan protests for September 27 to call attention to the fact that Moscow has not lived up to its promises to pay supplements to medical personnel who have been working with coronavirus patients (openmedia.io/news/n3/tema-ne-dlya-ulicy-vlasti-v-regionax-zapreshhayut-medikam-provedenie-akcij-protiv-otkazov-v-kovidnyx-vyplatax/).