Staunton, January 26 – Today, Moscow reported registering 562 new deaths from the coronavirus, bringing the toll for the pandemic as a whole to more than 70,000, even though infection rates are falling and officials say that the situation in 60 of the country’s federal subjects has stabilized at various levels while the situation in three is deteriorating and that of 22 is improving (regnum.ru/news/3173449.html and regnum.ru/news/society/3170739.html).
But many experts say both these overall figures and the numbers Moscow reports each day understate the impact of the pandemic, with many suggesting that the total number of deaths is not 70,000 but 110,000 or more (sovross.ru/articles/2076/50658t.me/COVID2019_official/2398).
On the vaccine front, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said that the second and third Russian vaccine would be reaching Russians in the near future (regnum.ru/news/3173523.html and regnum.ru/news/3173380.html). And the health ministry singled out five regions as having handled the rollout of the vaccine especially well (club-rf.ru/news/58715
regnum.ru/news/3173660.html), and Russian trade officials said that Sputnik-5 will soon be in use in more than 25 countries (regnum.ru/news/3173175.html) and that its export could earn Russia more than oil now does (ng.ru/economics/2021-01-26/1_8066_export.html).
Domestically, three regions – Bashkortostan, Moscow Oblast and Sakhalin Oblast – now say they are ready to introduce covid passports, something actively opposed by many in the Russian government and the tourism industry (regnum.ru/news/3173157.html and regnum.ru/news/3173055.html).
On the economic front, Rosstat’s figures for 2020 suggest the Russian economy did not do as badly as many had feared, but the Accounting Chamber warned that the regime’s efforts at price control of basic commodities will lead to Soviet-style shortages (ehorussia.com/new/node/22648 and ach.gov.ru/upload/pdf/Экономический мониторинг 21 января 2021.pdf).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin says that 171 of the 450 members of his chamber have contracted the virus over the past year (regnum.ru/news/3173873.html).
· The Russian authorities brough criminal charges against several participants in the Navalny protests for violating coronavirus restriction rules (novayagazeta.ru/news/2021/01/26/167405-v-novom-ugolovnom-dele-o-narushenii-sanitarnyh-norm-vo-vremya-mitinga-figuriruyut-imena-yarmysh-alburova-stepanova-kalistratovoy-i-ilyushkina).
· The number of Russians who have thought about suicide has doubled since the pandemic began with the number who have actually killed themselves going up as well (versia.ru/pandemiya-covid-19-vyzvala-rost-chisla-suicidov).
· Moscow has announced that as part of its vaccination program for industry, it will be vaccinating migrant workers as quickly as possible so that they can get back to their jobs (pnp.ru/social/v-rospotrebnadzore-utochnili-kogda-migranty-poluchat-privivku-ot-covid-19.html).
· Real estate firms say there has been no softening in demand for high-end apartments in Moscow, an indication that the pandemic crisis has not hurt their financial positions (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/83269).