Staunton, January 20 -- Most Russians, polls show, oppose covid passports, believing along with many politicians and rights activists that such documents would lead to discrimination against those who don’t get inoculated. The Kremlin remains neutral, having punted the issue to the regions. But Moscow feels it has no choice but to prepare to issue certificates for those who want to travel abroad.
On the state of the debate, see among others, regnum.ru/news/3168476.html, regnum.ru/news/3168442.html, regnum.ru/news/3168258.html, regnum.ru/news/3168191.html, regnum.ru/news/3167965.html, nakanune.ru/articles/116677/, capost.media/views/antikovidnye-pasporta-eto-narushenie-vrachebnoy-tayny/, rusk.ru/newsdata.php?idar=88778, svpressa.ru/society/article/287647/ and echo.msk.ru/news/2776878-echo.html).
Today, Russian officials reported registering 21,152 new cases of infection and 597 new deaths from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours (t.me/stopcoronavirusrussia/3521), as the pandemic continued to ebb and flow across the country and even within major cities (regnum.ru/news/society/3165446.html).
Many regions and institutions have introduced new restrictions including the detention centers in Moscow (echo.msk.ru/news/2776792-echo.html).
Moscow’s much-ballyhooed role out of universal vaccination has not worked well. Many regions are not getting adequate supplies or even any at all (nakanune.ru/articles/116676/ and novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/01/20/88796-gonka-ukolov). The Kremlin has dismissed the problem noting that Russia is a big country and can’t be expected to get the vaccine to distant parts (regnum.ru/news/3168377.html).
Another limiting factor is that experts now say approximately 25 percent of the population should not get the shots because of underlying conditions. Together with those who don’t want to be vaccinated because they don’t trust the Russian vaccine or think it is unnecessary, that means more than half of the population is unlikely to be vaccinated voluntarily (regnum.ru/news/3168443.html and theins.ru/obshestvo/238540).
Many regions are stepping up propaganda campaigns to get people to volunteer to be vaccinated, even turning to social media (regnum.ru/news/3168001.html); and in some, the authorities are opening more vaccination points in the hopes of attracting more people to the shots (regnum.ru/news/3167981.html). Meanwhile, the Chumakov Institute has applied for registration of its new vaccine, the third Russian one (regnum.ru/news/3167860.html).
On the economic front, the RBC news agency reports that “almost 70 of Russia’s more than 80 regions are now running budget deficits (echo.msk.ru/news/2776758-echo.html). Car sales were down last year but by far less than many had feared they would be (regnum.ru/news/3168486.html), and there are reports that more than 450 businesses in the center of Moscow have been forced to close because of the pandemic-driven economic crisis (echo.msk.ru/news/2776760-echo.html).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Officials reported that the total number of crimes had risen by one percent in 2020 over 2019, with the most serious ones up 14 percent and cybercrime up 9.5 percent. But they said that family violence crimes had fallen 9.5 percent (regnum.ru/news/3168396.html and echo.msk.ru/news/2776954-echo.html).
· Education officials say that even when the pandemic ends, distance learning is going to remain a prominent feature for Russian schools (rosbalt.ru/moscow/2021/01/20/1883075.html).
· With nearly 50 percent of Russia’s smaller bookstores at the risk of closing, the Duma is considering measures to support their continued operation (dailystorm.ru/kultura/okolo-50-procentov-malenkih-knizhnyh-magazinov-na-grani-zakrytiya).