Staunton, December 29 – Russian officials are increasingly inclined to blame all of Russia’s problems this year on the coronavirus, including the share of excess births, with most of them saying that the pandemic is responsible for 90 percent or more of the record excess deaths this past year (svpressa.ru/society/article/286012/
But medical experts put the coronavirus share at a far lower percentage, arguing that other causes including inadequate medical care, decreased exercise, and increased consumption of alcohol are to blame (meduza.io/news/2020/12/29/vlasti-moskvy-obosnovali-koronavirusom-97-izbytochnyh-smertey-v-noyabre-nakanune-rosstat-govoril-lish-o-43-v-masshtabah-vsey-strany and rusmonitor.com/anatolij-nesmiyan-realnaya-prichina-sverhsmertnosti-v-totalnom-razvale-zdravoohraneniya.html).
The Russian authorities registered 27,002 new cases of infection and 562 new deaths from the coronavirus over the past 24 hours (t.me/COVID2019_official/2279). But future data may be affected by a decision to change the way in which medical workers will count infections (idelreal.org/a/31024773.html).
And in another move, perhaps reflecting problems Russia is having in getting people to accept vaccination, the health ministry said it would stop releasing data on the numbers of people receiving the shots (echo.msk.ru/news/2765934-echo.html). But reports from across the country show that the pandemic continues to rage (regnum.ru/news/society/3148450.html
Russians continue to resist restrictions, with officials saying 10 percent of bars and restaurants in the capital ignoring rule and police having handed out 99,000 citations to individuals for violations (regnum.ru/news/3153843.html and echo.msk.ru/news/2765836-echo.html). In Nizhny Tagil, people protested government plan to privatize ambulance service (nakanune.ru/articles/116633/).
Kremlin press spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he still could not say whether Vladimir Putin’s eventual vaccination will be filmed for showing on television (regnum.ru/news/3153920.html). But other officials said that foreign vaccines would be available to Russians early next year (regnum.ru/news/3153717.html and forbes.ru/tehnologii/417593-klinika-v-skolkovo-planiruet-privezti-v-rossiyu-inostrannye-vakciny-ot).
Officials also announced that starting in January, they will be issuing “vaccination passports” to all who get the vaccine, yet another way to try to get more people to take the shots in a country where a majority of people say they don’t want to (regnum.ru/news/3153943.html). Another way to boost figures is to have more groups allowed to be vaccinated sooner (regnum.ru/news/3154256.html).
After promising last week that vaccinations would continue throughout the New Year’s holidays, today Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said the program which has already inoculated 50,000 Muscovites would be suspended on December 31 and January 1 (regnum.ru/news/3154259.html and regnum.ru/news/3154306.html).
On the economic front, the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service and the Gaydar Institute reported that Moscow’s arm sales abroad declined by 17 percent during the pandemic (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/82874).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· A government investigation found that 20 percent of Russian medical labs were in violation of procedures and therefore often giving incorrect results (regnum.ru/news/3154129.html).
· Online retailers are seeking the right to sell alcoholic beverages online arguing that this will prevent the spread of the coronavirus by limiting lines at alcohol stores (echo.msk.ru/news/2765932-echo.html).
· Eighty-eight percent of Russians say the last year was harder than the previous one, the Levada Center reported, making 2020 the worst year for Russians since 1991 (echo.msk.ru/news/2765926-echo.html).