Staunton, February 13 – In recent years, Vladimir Putin’s actions abroad have given him less of a boost with the population than similar moves did earlier, making what achievements he can claim credit for at home more important for his standing. The invention of the Sputnik-5 vaccine against the coronavirus is one of these, but now Russians want to see more.
That Russia came up with a vaccine first is a genuine source of pride among Russians, and Putin has benefited from this, URA news agency commentator Sergey Dianov argues, both because it occurred on his watch and because it benefits the population directly rather than more indirectly as his foreign triumphs may (ura.news/articles/1036281921).
But the impact has been relatively short-lived, Dianov suggests, and as a result, Putin is now under pressure to come up with new gains on this front, possibly including lifting the pandemic restrictions soon so as to be able to declare victory over the virus sooner than other countries.
Beyond the Kremlin walls, the pandemic continued to ebb and flow with officials reporting registering 15,089 new cases of infection and 507 new deaths over the last 24 hours (regnum.ru/news/society/3188415.htmlt.me/COVID2019_official/2473).
With regard to openings and closings, the big story today was that, following withering criticism from Moscow, Udmurtia backed down and did not lift the requirement that people wear masks in public but Chechnya refused to reverse its decision to end the mask requirement, although Grozny did say that wearing masks remains a good idea (meduza.io/feature/2021/02/13/v-dvuh-regionah-rossii-otmenili-obyazatelnoe-noshenie-masok-pochemu-vsego-cherez-dva-dnya-v-udmurtii-peredumali-i-v-chechne-tozhe-posovetovali-ih-vse-taki-nosit).
There were also three ominous warnings about the future of the pandemic. One Russian doctor said that the pandemic will return in force once the weather warms up (capost.media/news/obshchestvo/ekspert-seychas-udachnyy-period-lyudi-mogut-nemnogo-otdokhnut-ot-virusa/).
A second said that there is growing evidence that the coronavirus affects the brain and that it sometimes manifests itself in ways resembling encephalitis (ura.news/news/1052471653). And a third echoed Western warnings that the coronavirus pandemic will be succeeded by even more deadly viral strains (regnum.ru/news/3190254.html).