Staunton, December 24 – Because of the pandemic which led to so much illness and deaths, Patriarch Kirill says, the Russian Orthodox Church saw a decline in the number of its clergy serving in Moscow. He said that 350 priests and hierarchs and 720 monks had been infected and that 33 religious had died (credo.press/234839/).
The independent Orthodox portal, Ahilla, suggests that Kirill is understating the problem, that far more clergy and especially hierarchs have died, and that every fifth religious in the Russian capital has succumbed to the coronavirus (ahilla.ru/kovidom-za-vremya-pandemii-perebolel-prakticheski-kazhdyj-pyatyj-klirik-moskvy/).
The Russian authorities reported registering 29,935 new cases of infection and 635 new deaths, both daily records, as the pandemic intensified in many parts of the Russian Federation (t.me/COVID2019_official/2246 and regnum.ru/news/society/3148450.html).
Indeed, the situation in many regions has become so serious that governors from many places have issued a collective appeal to Vladimir Putin for immediate assistance (ura.news/articles/1036281674).
Moscow continues to see cases rise, but it has enough vaccine to register 50,000 more people to get it and has expanded the list of categories whose members can seek vaccination (regnum.ru/news/3150487.html, lenta.ru/news/2020/12/24/vacuna/ and echo.msk.ru/news/2763380-echo.html).
But beyond the ring road, vaccines are in short supply. Even in St. Petersburg, a coronavirus hotspot, only just over 2,000 people have been vaccinated so far (regnum.ru/news/3150346.html), and many places fear they won’t see significant amounts of the vaccine until next spring or summer (bfm.ru/news/461356 and ura.news/news/1052464789).
The Russian authorities announced that Russian labs continue to work on additional vaccines but noted that the producers of Sputnik-5, the first vaccine, have decided not to give placebos to anyone as the firm completes testing, a violation of established practice (regnum.ru/news/3150087.html and charter97.org/ru/news/2020/12/24/405168/).
Economic news continued to be bad. Superjob reported that only one Russian in seven has sufficient savings to do without work for six months, and another outlet said that ever more Russians are falling behind in the repayment of consumer debts (echo.msk.ru/news/2763180-echo.html and finanz.ru/novosti/lichnyye-finansy/rekordnoe-chislo-rossiyan-okazalis-ne-v-sostoyanii-gasit-kredity-1029918698).
And Russian commentators are increasingly speaking about “creative destruction” to describe what they see will happen next year with many business bankruptcies and rising unemployment winnowing many business sectors and feeding upon itself to make the situation worse than officials have been saying (regnum.ru/news/3150500.html).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· An expert at the Russian Academy of Sciences says that the second wave of the pandemic in Russia had a domestic source and was not produced by something coming in from the outside (regnum.ru/news/3149993.html).
· Makhachkala has dedicated a monument to Daghestani doctors who died fighting the coronavirus (etokavkaz.ru/news/104470).
· After Vladimir Putin indicated that he favors making December 31 a holiday, many governors who had been holding out joined the more than 40 who had already declared it a non-working day to fight the coronavirus (echo.msk.ru/news/2763432-echo.html).