Staunton, December 21 – As the pandemic continues and even intensifies in Russia, it is exacerbating tensions between the overwhelming majority of the population facing increasing difficulties and the few at the top who aren’t. Now, some of the former say that the coronavirus could have been defeated if the Kremlin weren’t so in thrall to the rich.
The reason? Had Moscow shut the borders sooner, many believe, the pandemic could have been contained; but the elite opposed taking that step, some Russians say, because “the elite didn’t want to give up its shopping in Milan” (svpressa.ru/politic/article/285280/).
Such people may become even angrier now that the Kremlin has played down the seriousness of the new coronavirus strain in Britain, to which Russian elites often go, although it finally announced it was suspending flights to the UK for a week (themoscowtimes.com/2020/12/21/russia-plays-down-britains-infectious-coronavirus-strain-a72418
The city of Moscow announced that it would now offer the vaccine to industrial workers and members of the media (regnum.ru/news/3147207.html and regnum.ru/news/3146454.html), a move that reflects the increasing availability of the vaccine and smaller than expected percentages of earlier groups getting the shots.
Security Council deputy head Dmitry Medvedev said that Russian planned to have more than 45 million doses of the vaccine available during the first half of 2021 (regnum.ru/news/3147024.html), and Vladimir Putin called for expanded international cooperation in fighting the pandemic (regnum.ru/news/3146703.html).
The Kremlin leader also stressed that the vaccine is highly effective, citing the experience of his relatives and close colleagues, although he has still not taken the shots himself (regnum.ru/news/3146917.html).
On the economic front, the news continued to be disturbing. More than half of all small businesses say they haven’t received the government subsidies Moscow has announced and that they have been promised (rbc.ru/rbcfreenews/5fdf99da9a79473a08d01560?from=newsfeed). Many aren’t paying their workers, and as a result, the latter are going ever more deeply in debt, setting the stage for evictions (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/82646 and versia.ru/s-rossiyan-potrebuyutnakopivshiesya-za-vremya-pandemii-dolgi-za-zhkx).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Russian fitness centers, many of which are close to shutting their doors, have offered to help provide rehabilitation to coronavirus victims (regnum.ru/news/3146455.html).
· As ever more Russian regions make December 31 a day off from work, a Just Russia deputy in the Duma has called for the federal government to make that date a national day off (regnum.ru/news/3146327.html).
· Environmentalists say that the restrictions on New Year’s celebrations will make this holiday the most ecologically positive one ever (chaskor.ru/article/kak_pandemiya_mozhet_sdelat_novogodnie_prazdniki_ekologichnymi_46878).