Staunton, February 16 – As a result of the pandemic, Russian courts have held far fewer jury trials; but when they have held them, the courts have found more than a quarter of those charged not guilty, more than ten times the rate prior to the onset of the coronavirus (echo.msk.ru/news/2791686-echo.html).
There are also some indications that those charged are becoming more insistent on having their rights observed. A Komi man demanded as is his right to have charges and hearings translated into his national language, something most Russian courts have ignored in the past (nazaccent.ru/content/35129-komi-aktivistu-otkazalis-perevodit-protokol-na.html).
Russian officials reported registering 13,233 new cases and 459 new deaths from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours, both figures much lower than recorded in recent weeks (t.me/COVID2019_official/2485). St. Petersburg officials said that all excess deaths there last year could be tied to the virus (regnum.ru/news/3192126.html and echo.msk.ru/news/2791724-echo.html).\
In most parts of Russia, the pandemic is easing and regional officials are moving to lift many restrictions they imposed earlier (regnum.ru/news/society/3188415.html and rbc.ru/society/16/02/2021/602a7a179a7947c7b995e5e9). But 11 percent of Russians are still working remotely, with that figure rising to 25 percent in the capitals (echo.msk.ru/news/2791542-echo.html).
According to a new VTsIOM poll, 64 percent of those now working at home say they like the arrangement while 29 percent say they don’t. Women prefer working at home slightly more than men, the survey found (stoletie.ru/lenta/vciom_vyjasnil_mnenije_rossijan_ob_udalonnoj_rabote_356.htm).
The Russian government issued rules that will allow some foreign students to return to universities and other higher educational institutions in Russia in the coming months (rospotrebnadzor.ru/about/info/news/news_details.php?ELEMENT_ID=16885).
On the vaccine front, there are reports that in some places employers are forcing workers to get the vaccine even though it is supposed to be voluntary and that officials are backing up the employers (regnum.ru/news/3192720.html). One group which is almost certain to be required to have the vaccine are migrant workers (regnum.ru/news/3192499.html).
Sailors in the Russian Northern Fleet are now being vaccinated at the rate of 1000 a day (function.mil.ru/news_page/country/more.htm?id=12344299), and those in the Baltic Fleet in Kaliningrad who will take part in Victory Day parades are being given the shots as well (regnum.ru/news/3191686.html).
And Moscow city officials reported that they have begun giving the vaccine to the city’s homeless population (msk.kp.ru/daily/27240/4368622/).
Because of the push to vaccine the population and to export the Russian vaccine, the country’s pharmaceutical industry has been growing at the rate of a 100 percent increase in each of the last several months, the only Russian sector to show such a rise (ng.ru/economics/2021-02-16/1_8084_economics1.html).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Scientists in Siberia are analyzing material from preserved mammoths to try to identify ancient viruses that may present a threat as global warming exposures more such bodies from the past (siberiantimes.com/other/others/news/hunt-for-ancient-viruses-begins-as-russias-leading-virology-centre-samples-remains-of-ice-age-animals/).
· Russian scholars have announced that there is no evidence that the coronavirus can spread from pet cats and dogs to humans (sovsekretno.ru/news/uchenye-iz-rf-oprovergli-versiyu-o-peredache-covid-19-ot-koshek-i-sobak/).
· Many officials in Moscow expected that the success of the Russian vaccine would spark “vaccine tourism” in which foreigners would flock to the country to get the medication. But it turns out that almost all who have come from abroad are Russian citizens who live in other countries but have gone home to get the vaccine (kp.ru/daily/27239/4367782/).