Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Pandemic has Increased Conspiracy Thinking and Made Russians More Ready to Denounce Others, Moscow State Study Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 14 – A massive new study conducted by scholars at Moscow State University finds that the pandemic in Russia has decreased critical thinking, increased phobia and belief in conspiracies, and made people more ready to denounce others than they were before it hit (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/12/14/88362-donos-kak-simptom).

            Today, Russian officials registered 27,328 new cases of infection and 450 new deaths, bringing the respective totals to 2,681,256 and 47,391 (t.me/COVID2019_official/2175). Both these numbers were down slightly from a day before prompting talk of a plateau or even the beginning of the end of the pandemic.

            But reports from around the country show that it is still raging in many places (regnum.ru/news/society/3137671.html). In St. Petersburg, the government is tightening restrictions but promising to loosen them in the New Year if the situation changes (regnum.ru/news/3141201.html). Tour operators say 95 percent of those who made reservations to visit the northern capital over the holidays have cancelled (regnum.ru/news/3141043.html).

            Businesses and individuals across the Russian Federation are using all kinds of dodges to avoid following the rules. Perhaps the most creative comes from Irkutsk where restaurant operators declared they were a hostel in order to stay open later than would otherwise have been possible. The authorities didn’t accept this (regnum.ru/news/3140770.html).

            In many places anger is building up. A protest in the Altay featured signs declaring that the problems the Russian people are experiencing with health care are not the work of the CIA or the State Department but of the Kremlin and their own government (region.expert/altai-picket/).

One Russian restriction is both harsh and counterproductive: Aeroflot says it won’t allow anyone on its planes if he or she is not wearing a mask even if the individuals have medical conditions that dictate they don’t wear them (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5FD74F9A508C2).

            The manufacturers of the Sputnik-5 vaccine said it was 100 percent effective against the most serious forms of coronavirus infection, but they also dropped the figure for overall success from 96.2 percent to 91.4 percent as more test results have come in (regnum.ru/news/3141213.html and  themoscowtimes.com/2020/12/14/russias-sputnik-v-vaccine-is-914-effective-developers-confirm-a72350).

             Officials said that there were now approximately 320,000 doses of the vaccine available to the public and that it had been distributed to all regions, although Moscow appears to have more doses per capita than most and sanitary problems have arisen in many regions (regnum.ru/news/3141165.html, regnum.ru/news/3141019.html and newizv.ru/news/society/14-12-2020/ocheredi-i-antisanitariya-rossiyane-nedovolny-vaktsinatsiey-v-regionah).

            The percentage of Russians saying they are willing to be vaccinated has risen to 42 percent from 23 percent in September, according to a Public Opinion Poll survey; but a majority – 52 percent – say they aren’t interested in getting the vaccine now (regnum.ru/news/3140811.html). Presumably those being given the vaccine in the military don’t have a choice (regnum.ru/news/3140489.html).

            The economic crisis exacerbated by the pandemic continues to hit small businesses hard. One-fifth of all fitness clubs in Moscow have closed and another 30 percent are projected to close by the end of the year. Also projected to close are 20 percent of the city’s beauty salons (echo.msk.ru/news/2757842-echo.html).

            Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,

·         84 percent of Russians say they will celebrate on NewYear’s eve despite the restrictions; only ten percent say they will delay such partying (ng.ru/news/697665.html).

·         Novosibirsk officials have been told that they will be fired if they take part in New Year’s parties (newizv.ru/news/society/14-12-2020/chinovnikam-v-novosibirske-prigrozili-uvolneniem-za-uchastie-v-novogodnih-vecherinkah).

·         And Vladimir Putin attempted to have it both ways: He said no one who needed medical attention should be sent home from the  hospital but on the same day his government delayed a program for improving hospital facilities, blaming the delay on the pandemic (rbc.ru/society/14/12/2020/5fd74a819a7947ae880c4b91 and https://iarex.ru/articles/78837.html).


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