Friday, December 11, 2020

Putin Says Pandemic has Fundamentally Changed Relations Between State and Its Citizens

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 10 – In Russia as in other countries, Vladimir Putin says, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the relationship between the state and its citizens, with the responsibilities of the former becoming clearer and the demands of the latter ever more insistent (

            In other comments, the Russian president argues that Russia was far better positioned to shift to online schooling and thus has not suffered the losses in educational attainment that many other countries have (

            Russian officials reported registering 27,927 new cases of infection and 562 new deaths from the pandemic, bringing the respective totals to 2,569,129 and 45,280 ( But those figures were overshadowed by Rosstat’s assessment for October of excess deaths, most of which are attributable to the pandemic.

The total number of deaths this October as compared to a year earlier, the statistics agency said, was 47,777, 30.3 percent more (, and

The pandemic continued to lead to more restrictions being imposed across the country and more complaints about them, especially as they will affect the upcoming New Year’s holiday ( and The situations in the two capitals were especially fraught.

The Moscow city government promised it would not introduce any new restrictions before January, argued that its transition to distance learning for the upper grades has not resulted in any loss of educational quality, and say that while getting the vaccine is voluntary, those who do may be given preferences (, and

St. Petersburg officials met with businesses who object to New Year’s restrictions. Each side made some concessions, but the city pledged to trace violations on social media and then move in with police force (, and

After the Russian Orthodox Church objected to any inspection of its facilities, the St. Petersburg city government promised that it would no enter the churches to determine whether they were following distancing and mask rules ( and

            More than 150,000 Russians have received the vaccine, and the government says inoculations will begin in the regions by the end of the week ( and But two problems have arisen that may cause difficulties in the coming days.

            On the one hand, some medical experts are warning that the virus may mutate and render the current vaccines useless ( ); and on the other, a group of senior Russian scientists have issued an open letter denouncing the developers of the Sputnik-5 for failing to study more carefully both its safety and effectiveness (

            On the economic front, all the news was negative. Russians’ incomes are falling but the government is collecting more taxes from them, a quarter of small and mid-sized businesses are suffering serious problems, and most Russians are cutting their spending now even more than they have to in the belief that the future will be even worse (, and

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

·         A self-isolation museum opens but doesn’t attract many visitors (

·         Students are dropping out of Russian universities that have gone over to distance learning because they believe they aren’t getting their money’s worth. But as a result, many higher educational institutions in Russia are without money to operate (

·         Duma deputy Aleksey Kurinny says that the Russian health ministry has clearly lost control of the situation in Russia as far as the pandemic is concerned (

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