Staunton, February 9 – Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov today promised that the pandemic will be over in Russia by August, but some commentators expressed doubt about both the date and even the possibility that the shadow of the disease will go away anytime soon (svpressa.ru/society/article/289420/ and kasparov.ru/material.php?id=6022347209F3C).
The possibility that the pandemic will continue for months or even years longer has led others to conclude that the Kremlin will lose control of the narrative and that the truth about Russia’s losses from the coronavirus will come out, albeit haltingly and slowly (mnews.world/ru/news/kommentarij-pravdu-o-kovide-v-rossii-i-ego-posledstviyah-ne-skryt).
The Russian authorities registered 15,019 new cases of infection, continuing the decline in recent days, and 530 new deaths from the coronavirus, as more places opened up around the country (t.me/COVID2019_official/2458 and regnum.ru/news/society/3182472.html). Udmurtia became the first place to end mask requirements (regnum.ru/news/3186539.html and regnum.ru/news/3186536.html).
Another sign of opening up: Aeroflot announced the renewal of regular flights to Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and India (regnum.ru/news/3186416.html).
Increasingly, the media focus is on vaccines, questions about the Russian one, its use or development by other countries, and access to it in Russia itself. Controversy continues abroad about Sputnik-5 with some foreign scholars saying that The Lancet article did not resolve all the issues about the Russian medication (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=6022A4384BBF0).
Ukrainian officials have rejected the importation of Sputnik-5, something the Kremlin says is all right since it will allow Russia to sell more elsewhere (regnum.ru/news/3186295.html). Iran may produce it for export, Israel may produce it for its own use, and Azerbaijan plans to test various medications (regnum.ru/news/3186312.html, echo.msk.ru/news/2787694-echo.html and themoscowtimes.com/2021/02/09/coronavirus-in-russia-the-latest-news-feb-9-a69117).
Domestically, figures from St. Petersburg suggest that officials have give the first of two shots of the vaccine five times more often than they have given the second shot. In the northern capital, two percent have received the first, but only 0.4 percent have been given the second (regnum.ru/news/society/3185827.html).
Economically, the impact of the pandemic on Russia’s regions has been enormous and negative: 79 percent of federal subjects have seen the number of people employed fall since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/83593).