Staunton, November 19 – Despite suggestions by Moscow officials and the WHO that the pandemic in Russia was easing and the Kremlin’s statement that Vladimir Putin does not view the problem as sufficiently severe to require him to speak to the country, coronavirus figures continued to set new negative records (asiarussia.ru/news/25968/, regnum.ru/news/3119787.html and https://versia.ru/voz-situaciya-s-koronavirusom-v-rossii-uluchshilas
In some cases, when officials or experts have talked about an improvement in the pandemic and their words have been posted online. Readers have responded with savage attacks suggesting that there is something wrong with people who say things that are obviously at variance with reality (regnum.ru/news/3120191.html).
As bad as things are again becoming in Moscow and St. Petersburg where officials are warning of problems ahead over New Year’s and admitting they’ve made many mistakes, it is even worse in many parts of the country beyond the ring road (regnum.ru/news/3120089.html, regnum.ru/news/3120134.html and regnum.ru/news/society/3116623.html
Some hope may be ahead: the producers of the Sputnik-5 vaccine have filed papers to have their medication certified by the WHO, another move to try to boost confidence in it among Russians and get more of them to agree to be vaccinated in the coming months (regnum.ru/news/3119747.html).
On the economic front, the index of productive activity has fallen to the level of 2010-2011 (regnum.ru/news/3119567.html); the Bank of Russia said the decline in Russia GDP which had eased slightly a few months ago was now accelerating (ehorussia.com/new/node/22167); and hotel operators said they had been among the hardest hit sectors (regnum.ru/news/3119983.html and regnum.ru/news/3119915.html).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Regional leaders are being told they should appoint to head health administrations only those approved by and typically from Moscow (regnum.ru/news/3120104.html), with one KPRF Duma deputy calling for the federalization of all health care structures (regnum.ru/news/polit/3120254.html).
Despite increasing stress during the pandemic, Russians remain skeptical about turning to psychologists for help, preferring instead to rely on friends and family (wciom.ru/analytical-reviews/analiticheskii-obzor/psikhologi-sredi-nas-2020
· And Anatoly Chubais, head of Rosnano, said that “the chief plus” of the pandemic has been the way it has forced Russia to go digital at unprecedented rates (regnum.ru/news/3120009.html).