Saturday, January 9, 2021

Putin Attends Christmas Church Service without Mask, as Buryatia Demands Passengers from Moscow Be Tested on Landing

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 7 – Today, even as the Russian death toll from the pandemic passed 60,000, Vladimir Putin, in violation of Russian Orthodox Church recommendations that those over 65 not come to church for Eastern Christmas services and Moscow’s calls for Russians to wear masks, attended a religious service without a mask (

            The Russian government did report that it had registered fewer new infections (23,541) and deaths (506) over the last 24 hours, although it is not clear whether this is a turning point or reflects the impact of the holidays on testing and reporting, given that regions continue to report spikes ( and

            Russian officials did report that the spread of the coronavirus does appear to have eased somewhat  in recent weeks with the index of the spread falling below 1.0, but only slightly, meaning that each infection spreads to fewer than one additional person (

            The most significant development at the government level today was a decision by the government in Buryatia to require coronavirus testing of all passengers arriving there from Moscow, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, and Khabarovsk, a step other regions may follow (

            The health ministry said that vaccinations would continue during the upcoming holidays ( And Russian experts followed Western ones in suggesting that the coronavirus is likely to be chronic and require annual shots much as the flu does (

            In other vaccine developments, Budapest said it would not begin importing the Russian vaccine because Moscow lacks the productive capacity to ensure that it can supply the number of doses Hungary would require (; and the controversy over whether to buy the Russian vaccine continued in Ukraine (

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