Staunton, December 25 – In most countries around the world, governments during the pandemic have borrowed and spent enormous sums to keep their citizens from falling into poverty. But “only in Russia,” Novaya gazeta says have the people fallen ever deeper into poverty while the government has seen its various funds increase dramatically.
The paper documents the dramatic increase in the size of government funds over the last 12 months, a time when the Russian people have seen their incomes fall to the point that one in every four of them says he or she has only enough money for food (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/12/25/88535-fondy-blagosostoyaniya-nachalnikov and finanz.ru/novosti/lichnyye-finansy/vciom-kazhdomu-chetvertomu-v-rossii-khvataet-deneg-tolko-na-edu-1029919631).
Today, for the second 24-hour period in a row, the Russian government registered more than 29,000 new cases of infection. It also registered 563 new deaths, bringing the latter toll to 54,659, as the pandemic continued in most parts of the Russian Federation (novayagazeta.ru/news/2020/12/25/166739-v-rossii-za-poslednie-sutki-vyyavili-29-018-novyh-sluchaev-covid-19 and regnum.ru/news/society/3148450.html).
In some places, the situation has deteriorated to the point that regional governments are paying elderly people to stay home lest they become infected and die, but in at least one place, people are protesting what they say is the forced vaccination of the population (regnum.ru/news/3151649.html and t.me/fairnews_life/1493).
The St. Petersburg government is allowing restauranteurs to serve people on the streets in front of their establishments. The local branch of the Communists of Russia is pressing for the reopening of these businesses to save the health of the population (https://www.kp.ru/daily/1712104/4344123/ and https://regnum.ru/news/3150966.html).
Moscow did point to one success: it appears to have convinced a large part of the population not to take part in holiday parties at work lest these become super-spreader events (regnum.ru/news/3150913.html).
Meanwhile, controversy swirled around a decision to end giving anyone taking part in the third stage of the Sputnik-5 testing a placebo. According to the producers, the vaccine has shown itself to be so safe that it would be wrong not to give it to everyone willing to be tested (meduza.io/feature/2020/12/25/net-osnovaniy-schitat-chto-eta-vaktsina-nekachestvennaya-imenno-poetomu-nado-bylo-vse-sdelat-idealno).
Because of what it says is high demand for the vaccine inside Russia, Moscow has stopped the export of the medication to foreign countries (regnum.ru/news/3151427.html, regnum.ru/news/3151416.html and https://regnum.ru/news/3151370.html). It will continue to export its coronavirus tests which are currently going to some 45 countries (regnum.ru/news/3151190.html).
The Russian government is urging the federal subjects to band together to purchase and then share out needed medications (regnum.ru/news/3151447.html). It also says that 58 percent of Russians have now been vaccinated for the flu, an order of magnitude more than have received the coronavirus shot (regnum.ru/news/3151292.html).
On the economic front, Konstantin Babkin, the head of the Moscow Economic Forum, says that the economic policy of the Kremlin has not achieved its economic goals but has made the pandemic in Russia worse (nakanune.ru/articles/116626/).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Nineteen percent fewer Russians registered their marriages during the first nine months of 2020 than during the same period a year earlier, in part because registration offices were closed by the pandemic (regnum.ru/news/3150750.html).
· Russian cultural institutions have successfully moved online over the last year and artists are now producing what some call “covid art” (themoscowtimes.com/2020/12/25/russian-covid-art-and-online-culture-highlights-of-2020-a72489).
· And a proposal that Russians who have received the vaccine be given “a covid passport” has attracted some support but many opponents as unworkable (mbk-news.appspot.com/news/kovid-pasporta/).