Saturday, February 13, 2021

Covid Natural But Anti-Vaxxer Movement a Hybrid War against Russia, Onishchenko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 12 – Duma deputy Gennady Onishchenko, a former senior health official, says that the coronavirus is without doubt a natural phenomenon but that anti-vaxxer sentiment in Russia is not. Instead, he says, it is part of a hybrid war directed against Russia by its enemies (

            One of the possible consequences of his remarks is that Moscow may feel far freer to move against anti-vaxxer sentiments online if senior officials conclude as he has that opposition to the vaccine is not simply about the health concerns of Russians but rather the result of a concerted effort by Russia’s enemies to weaken it.

            There is already some evidence that others in the Russian capital accept Onishchenko’s suggestion. Kirill Dmitriyev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Foundation, says that opposition to the use of the Sputnik-5 vaccine in foreign countries is “a provocation” rather than a natural response (

            Today, the pandemic continued to ebb and flow across Russia, with officials reporting registering 15,089 new cases of infection and 507 new deaths ( and Yesterday, Udmurtia and Chechnya announced they were ending mask requirements in public. That sparked withering criticism from the center, and Udmurtia, but not yet Chechnya, has backed down (

            Other regions are thinking about lifting this and other restrictions but are no likely to go more slowly at least on this one, including Moscow, which still has many limitations in place ( and

            On the vaccine front, Vladimir Putin confirmed that he has still not gotten the shots, prompting some observers to suggest he is afraid of them (  and He did say yesterday he would be immunized in August or September.

            One group of Russians now being vaccinated are members of military units slated to take part in the Victory Day parade on May 9 ( Russian soldiers at bases in Armenia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia are also being supplied with the Sputnik-5 vaccine (

            Now that the Sputnik-5 vaccine has been approved for use in 26 countries, Moscow officials are arguing that it is now in the top three most popular covid vaccines ( and

            And the Russian government has announced that yet another country, Serbia,  has agreed to manufacture the Sputnik-5 medication ( Russian laboratories which have provided testing for the infection have earned more than 40 billion rubles (550 million US dollars) since the start of the pandemic (

            Russian analysts say that the demographic consequences of the pandemic are likely to cast a long shadow on the country’s economic development for years ( Already those who have worked at home are finding it difficult to go back to the office or plant (

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

·         A new poll shows that more than half of Russians (56 percent) who have been infected with the coronavirus think it is a serious disease but only two percent more than do those who have not themselves been infected (

·         The Muslim Spiritual Directorate (MSD) of the Russian Federation held a roundtable to promote the finding that the Russian vaccine corresponds to Islamic dietary requirements and that Muslims should get it as soon as they can (

·         Pandemic lockdowns last year contributed to a rise in divorces in two Muslim republics, Chechnya and Daghestan, where such marital outcomes historically have been rare (

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