Staunton, March 19 – Today, more than 10,000 Russians assembled at a concert to mark the seventh anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and Sevastopol. Similar events were held in other Russian cities. In almost all cases, participants did not wear masks or follow social distancing recommendations (svpressa.ru/society/article/293018/ and mbk-news.appspot.com/korotko/bez-masok-i-sotsialnoj-distantsii/).
That pattern only highlighted what is increasingly the case: the Putin regime uses the coronavirus restrictions it has imposed only against those who protest against it and ignores its own rules when it organizes mass meetings in support of itself and its goals (rusmonitor.com/dmitrij-demushkin-sanitarno-epidemiologicheskie-ogranicheniya-tolko-dlya-oppoziczii.html).
This divergence appears set to increase in coming weeks. The Kremlin has announced that Victory Day commemorations will occur in “normal,” that is, pre-covid, format and that Vladimir Putin will appear at more events face-to-face even though he has yet to be vaccinated (regnum.ru/news/3219936.html and https://regnum.ru/news/polit/3219988.html).
As the pandemic continued to ebb and flow across Russia with extensions of restrictions or even new ones more common than their lifting in many places, Moscow reported registering 9699 new cases of infection and 443 new deaths over the last 24 hours (t.me/COVID2019_official/2626 and regnum.ru/news/society/3217850.html).
But medical experts said they expect “a small growth” in the rate of infection in Russia in the coming months (regnum.ru/news/3219362.html).
Shortages of vaccine in many parts of Russia have forced the suspension of the inoculation effort, although Moscow is promising to deliver more by next week (regnum.ru/news/3220015.html and regnum.ru/news/3219751.html).
One category of Russians doesn’t face any shortage of vaccines – the military – which continues to report rapidly increasing numbers of vaccinations, especially in the Moscow area (regnum.ru/news/3220412.html and regnum.ru/news/3219382.html).
To track the varied and often contradictory patterns of vaccination, Moscow’s Novaya gazeta has begun publishing an interactive map on the numbers of vaccinations in Russian regions (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/03/19/novaia-gazeta-zapustila-interaktivnyi-proekt-s-alternativnoi-statistikoi-po-vaktsinatsii-zabolevaemosti-smertnosti-i-rasprostraniaemosti-covid-19-v-rossii).
On the economic front, the Kremlin said that Russia has suffered less economically than other countries (versia.ru/dmitrij-peskov-dovolen-tem-chto-rossijskaya-yekonomika-postradala-ot-koronavirusa-menshe-mirovoj), but ordinary Russians are falling ever further behind in their payments for communal services (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/84388).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· A Moscow commentator says that Russia is winning what he calls “the vaccine war” against Western countries (vz.ru/opinions/2021/3/19/1090086.html).
· Russian medical experts are now talking about what they call “post-covid syndrome, a psychological state that involves depression and thoughts of suicide (nakanune.ru/articles/116797/).
· A Higher School of Economics study concludes that the availability of dachas which allow people to get away from one another for at least short periods of time has played a major role in keeping the divorce rate from soaring during the pandemic (kp.ru/daily/27254.5/4384787/).
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