Staunton, October 25 – Russian finance minster Anton Siluanov says that Moscow has no plans to dip into its national welfare reserve fund to fight the coronavirus and its economic consequences unless the price of oil declines precipitously, a clear indication of the Russian leadership’s priorities (ura.news/news/1052455747).
Many Russians would certainly say that such reserves should be deployed precisely in circumstances like the one they find themselves in, but the central government believes in husbanding them against an even worse threat – perhaps to itself? – and isn’t willing to disburse money to help the people.
The coronavirus numbers remain dire. Today, the authorities registered 16,710 new cases of infection and 229 new deaths, bringing those totals respectively to 1,513,877 and 26,050 (t.me/COVID2019_official/1832). A number that promises more trouble ahead was released today: Russia’s coefficient of distribution is now at 1.05 (regnum.ru/news/3098474.html).
New closures, including of schools (despite Moscow’s denials), continue across the country (regnum.ru/news/society/3096640.html and ura.news/news/1052455730). Also today, Muslim leaders in the North Caucasus said they would suspend all religious services if pandemic numbers continue to rise (capost.media/news/obshchestvo/v-kbr-mecheti-okazalis-pod-ugrozoy-zakrytiya-iz-za-koronavirusa/ and akcent.site/novosti/10508).
But new restrictions and increasing demands that Russians wear masks are provoking protests this weekend (7x7-journal.ru/articles/2020/10/24/uroven-zabolevaemosti-detej-ne-nastolko-kritichnyj-v-pskove-proshel-massovyj-piket-protiv-distancionnogo-obucheniya and sibreal.org/a/30910592.html).
Increasingly officials are warning that the pandemic won’t end until the end of next year and suggesting that Russian doctors may have to test Russians for the virus for several years after that (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5F957D78EE4B0 and versia.ru/za-sutki-v-rossii-vyyavleno-svyshe-167-tysyachi-sluchaev-zabolevaniya-covid-19).
Russians are increasingly turning to pharmacies to self-medicate despite risks (rbc.ru/society/26/10/2020/5f9438ab9a794758cbed607a and versia.ru/nazvany-opasnye-posledstviya-samolecheniya-pri-koronaviruse). Healthcare professionals are simultaneously warning of long-term consequences and arguing no one should get the vaccine until it is shown to be completely safe (ura.news/news/1052455697 and versia.ru/nazvany-opasnye-posledstviya-samolecheniya-pri-koronaviruse).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· A videoclip showing an overcrowded morgue has gone viral, forcing the health ministry to issue an explanation (versia.ru/v-internete-poyavilsya-videorolik-s-perepolnennym-morgom-v-novokuznecke and znak.com/2020-10-25/minzdrav_obyasnil_pochemu_kovidnyy_morg_novokuznecka_zavalen_telami_umershih).
· Russians who suffer from heart attacks or other emergencies are dying before ambulances, overwhelmed with coronavirus calls, can reach them (ura.news/news/1052455704).
· And Russian commentator Igor Eidman expressed bluntly what many people think about Putin’s response to the coronavirus: his “pathological cowardice which defines everything else. A coward is afraid of others and so is aggressive and cruel. A coward fears that telling the truth will result in punish and so is constantly lying. And a coward is afraid of competition and surrounds himself with mediocrities” (facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=3607789155950704&id=100001589654713).
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