Staunton, February 10 – A new analysis of Rosstat data suggests that almost all of the 358,000 excess deaths Russia suffered during 2020 were linked to the coronavirus, a conclusion that means such deaths were 6.3 times more than Moscow has admitted (meduza.io/feature/2021/02/10/teper-pochti-ofitsialno-rossiya-na-pervom-meste-po-chislu-zhertv-koronavirusa-na-dushu-naseleniya-eto-rezultat-deystviy-vlastey-letom-2020-goda).
That in turn means, the new analysis says, that Russia now ranks second to the United States in terms of coronavirus deaths and that in per capita terms, it now leads the world in terms of such losses. Other Russian analysts blame this outcome on Putin’s healthcare cutbacks and on Kremlin pandemic policies (rusmonitor.com/320-tysyach-rossiyan-ubil-ne-covid-ih-ubil-putin-i-ego-optimizacziya-medicziny.html).
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov suggests that what has happened in Russia reflects “the severe reality for all countries of the world” during the pandemic rather than any specific problems in his country (regnum.ru/news/3187503.html).
Today, Russian officials registered 14,494 new cases of covid infection, a smaller number than any day since mid-October but enough to push the official figures for infections in Russia over the course of the pandemic to more than four million (novayagazeta.ru/news/2021/02/10/167734-covid and regnum.ru/news/3187292.html).
Most regions of the Russian Federation showed an easing of the pandemic, with officials lifting restrictions affecting distance working, restaurants and government registration offices (regnum.ru/news/society/3182472.html and regnum.ru/news/3187386.html).
The decision of two federal subjects, Udmurtia first and then Chechnya, to life mandatory mask requirements attracted the most attention and sparked the most debate especially because most officials argued that the requirement for masks in public places should be retained for the time being (echo.msk.ru/news/2788172-echo.htmlt.me/RKadyrov_95/1048, regnum.ru/news/3187780.html, regnum.ru/news/3187671.html and regnum.ru/news/3187554.html).
Also today, the SOVA Center published a useful guide to the restrictions Russia’s various religious groups have put in place to help combat the pandemic (sova-center.ru/religion/news/authorities/karantin/2020/10/d43048/).
On the vaccine front, officials reported that 2.2 million Russians have received at least one vaccine shot and 1.7 million have received both (regnum.ru/news/3187531.html and kommersant.ru/doc/4683353). A Duma deputy has called for the opening of a hotline those being forced to get the vaccine can call to seek redress (regnum.ru/news/3187088.html).
The European Union says that it does not plan to include the Russian vaccine as part of its anti-pandemic strategy and Ukraine has announced that it is banning the import of the Sputnik-5 medication (echo.msk.ru/news/2788434-echo.html and nv.ua/ukraine/politics/ukraina-zapretila-registraciyu-rossiyskoy-vakciny-ot-koronavirusa-novosti-ukraina-50141049.html).
In the hopes of ending the debate on the safety and reliability of Russian vaccines, officials say they have sent more data on the testing results they have gathered to foreign journals for publication (regnum.ru/news/3187511.html).
On the economic front, increases in the nominal incomes of Russians over the recent period have lagged far behind inflation, a pattern that means their real incomes have fallen significantly (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/83597). Construction industry figures show that housing construction fell by 1.8 percent from 2019 to 2020 (regnum.ru/news/3186949.html).
And a new problem is now looming: Because migrant workers in most cases can’t enter Russia, agricultural enterprises in several regions say they will suffer a shortfall in seasonal workers of 22,000. If that is not made up, harvest figures in 2021 could fall significantly (versia.ru/v-rossii-za-sutki-zaregistrirovano-14-494-novyx-sluchaaya-zarazheniya-koronavirusom-i-536-letalnyx-isxodov).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Moscow announced that it is has developed a fast-acting coronavirus test for personal use (regnum.ru/news/3186802.html).
· The pandemic has had a powerful effect on drug use and prostitution in Russia, leading to the introduction of new kinds of drugs and to increasingly harsh treatment of prostitutes by their customers and the government (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/02/10/89151-raskachivanie-lomki and lenta.ru/articles/2021/02/11/prostitution/).
· A new survey shows that the pandemic has not increased solidarity and trust in Russia society in the ways that it has in some other countries and that it has not led Russians to rally round the state and its leaders either (ridl.io/ru/covid-19-i-obshhestvennye-nastroenija-rossijan-v-2020-godu/).