Staunton, February 19 – Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that the vaccination of Russians is its “absolute priority,” but at the same time, Russian officials are pushing to sell more of the vaccine abroad even though not all Russians have been inoculated (versia.ru/v-rossii-za-sutki-zaregistrirovano-13-433-sluchaya-zarazheniya-koronavirusom-i-470-letalnyx-isxodov and themoscowtimes.com/2021/02/19/looming-supply-glut-of-russias-sputnik-v-vaccine-could-pave-way-for-exports-a73019).
These officials believe that there is both monetary and political profit to be made and so are promoting foreign sales both by signing deals with pharmaceutical companies abroad to produce the Russian vaccine and offering it to foreign diplomats in Moscow as a form of advertising (alternatio.org/articles/articles/item/88818-na-zapade-sputnik-v-strashnee-covid-19, echo.msk.ru/news/2793108-echo.html and https://echo.msk.ru/news/2793048-echo.html).
Russian officials reported registering 13,433 new cases of infection and 470 new deaths from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours, continuing the recent declines and leading some to say that the pandemic is nearing its end (t.me/COVID2019_official/2498kp.ru/daily/27241/4369916/).
Moscow city officials said that the pandemic was easing but those in St. Petersburg said they were preparing for a third wave of the pandemic, and even at the center, officials said they were planning to buy more medical equipment to be ready just in case (regnum.ru/news/3195560.html and regnum.ru/news/3195588.html).
In many other parts of Russia, however, the pandemic continued or even increased in intensity forcing officials to extend restrictions to protect the most vulnerable parts of the population even at a time of overall improvement (regnum.ru/news/society/3195444.htmlregnum.ru/news/3195776.html).
One major re-opening that many Russians will welcome concerned foreign flights. Moscow has announced that it is resuming charter flights to Egypt, a major destination for many Russian tourists (capost.media/news/otdykh/mezhdu-rossiey-i-egiptom-vozobnovitsya-charternoe-aviasoobshchenie-/).
On the vaccine front, officials said that three times as many Muscovites have received the Sputnik-5 vaccine as Petersburgers, an indication that even between the two capitals there is an enormous gap, not to speak of the one between them and the rest of the Russian Federation (regnum.ru/news/3195881.html).
On the economic front, business groups warned that if Moscow does not extend its subsidies beyond March 1, Russian firms will be forced to lay off between 1.5 and 10 million people shortly thereafter (svpressa.ru/economy/article/290458/) because so many companies remain in trouble (regnum.ru/news/3196180.html).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· A new analysis reports that some cultural institutions have benefited from additional government aid during the pandemic (ng.ru/editorial/2021-02-18/2_8086_editorial.html).
· Pandemic tourism has finally appeared in Russia, with Ukrainians travelling to Russian cities to be immunized (kp.ru/daily/27243/4369998/).
· And officials have shown how they can use the pandemic selectively to promote their own ends, banning protests by the KPRF and other opposition groups but allowing the party of power, United Russia, to hold them (znak.com/2021-02-19/vlasti_zapretili_kprf_i_oppozicii_akcii_iz_za_kovida_a_potom_razreshili_ih_edinoy_rossii).