Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Moscow’s Response to Pandemic Puts Russia on Course to Fall Behind Indonesia Economically by 2030, Liberal Mission Study Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 18 – Because the Kremlin did so little to stimulate domestic demand during the pandemic, it has put Russia on course to fall out of the top five economies of the world by 2030 and rank sixth behind Indonesia, a development many in Moscow will find hard to accept, the Liberal Mission Foundation says.

            In its new study, The Covid Year: Preliminary Results and Challenges Ahead, the group’s experts said the coronavirus had accelerated the digitalization of the economy while expanding state control over media, depressed rates of economic growth, and both strengthened authoritarian regimes and challenged liberal ones (liberal.ru/lm-ekspertiza/god-kovida2020).

            By its failure to act more dramatically, the report says, the Russian government signaled that it is quite prepared for “a second decade of stagnation” because it is convinced that it can survive and its leaders can even prosper under those conditions. But the pandemic showed the fragility of many of its institutions when placed under stress.

            And the year highlighted the continuing unhappiness of the Russian people with the regime’s increasingly repressive approach, a combination that is likely to continue and even exacerbate problems over the next decade with little economic growth and an ever more authoritarian regime.

            How that will end, the authors suggest, is unclear; but it is certain that the stability the regime seeks by its current approach is likely to prove illusive especially when Russians recognize that their government has driven their country down to sixth place among the world’s economies.

            Today, the Russian authorities reported registering 8632 new cases of infection and 389 new deaths from the coronavirus as the pandemic continued to ebb and flow across the country (t.me/COVID2019_official/2793 and regnum.ru/news/society/3241939.html).

One very disturbing statistic did emerge: After weeks in which the Russian authorities have been able to push down the coefficient of spread of the coronavirus, it has shot up in Moscow to 1.07. That means that 107 additional people will be infected for every 100 identified with it (regnum.ru/news/3245991.html and echo.msk.ru/news/2823780-echo.html).

Russians are increasingly upset with restrictions, with 64 percent of respondents telling a Superjob survey that they were against the indefinite extension of the mask regime in public places. Only 15 percent favored that option (regnum.ru/news/3246085.html and regnum.ru/news/3245986.html).

Meanwhile, tour operators reported that Russians, having been restricted from travelling abroad, have been making more trips around their own country and that they have raised demand to the point that many domestic resorts are already sold out (profile.ru/lifestyle/travels/dolgaya-doroga-k-domu-blagodarya-kovidu-rossijskie-turisty-otkryli-svoyu-stranu-842085/).

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