Staunton, May 20 – As serious as the coronavirus pandemic situation in Russia now is, consumer affairs head Anna Popova says, things would have been even worse if Vladimir Putin had not extended the May holidays as he did, a comment some will certainly see as evidence of just how finely balanced the situation now is (regnum.ru/news/3275232.html).
But Popova’s words were overshadowed by controversy over Dmitry Medvedev’s proposal to make vaccinations mandatory. Commentators savaged his proposal, the Kremlin said it wasn’t ready to consider anything like that, and two out of three Russians say they are against such a policy (regnum.ru/news/3274664.html, kasparov.ru/material.php?id=60A5F304CF2E7, svpressa.ru/politic/article/298972/ and regnum.ru/news/3274245.html).
Russian officials reported registering 9232 new cases of infection and 396 new deaths from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours. Most of the increase in infections came from the city of Moscow which once again surged relatively to recent times as the pandemic ebbed and flowed across the country (t.me/COVID2019_official/2958 and regnum.ru/news/society/3267667.html).
The epidemiological situation in the two capitals and adjoining areas deteriorated markedly, forcing officials to back peddle on plans to reopen and instead adopting tougher measures to control public behavior to slow the pandemic (regnum.ru/news/3275239.html, regnum.ru/news/3275220.html and regnum.ru/news/3274940.html).
The Moscow half marathon was cancelled, apparently on orders from officials (newizv.ru/news/society/20-05-2021/zabeg-ne-parad-moskovskiy-polumarafon-pal-zhertvoy-pokazushnoy-borby-s-virusom and svobodaradio.livejournal.com/5395336.html).
On the vaccine front, officials acknowledged that only 6.17 percent of the Russian population has been fully vaccinated and that the rate of vaccination has fallen by 75 percent in Moscow since January and is now close to zero (sovross.ru/news/52051, meduza.io/feature/2021/05/20/kak-vyyasnila-meduza-vaktsinatsiya-v-moskve-fakticheski-ostanovilas and trtrussian.com/novosti-rossiya/vakcinaciya-ot-koronavirusa-v-moskve-prakticheski-ostanovilas-5506194).
One looming problem is that Moscow is getting Sputnik-5 which officials acknowledge privately is the best one while other regions are being send the second, third or fourth Russian vaccines which are less effective (regnum.ru/news/innovatio/3274875.html).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Moscow is outraged that the EU is allowing only those Russians who have been vaccinated with Western medications to enter and not allowing Russians who have received the Russian one which the EU does not yet recognize (svpressa.ru/politic/article/298977/).
· The Russian Orthodox Church reiterates that getting the vaccine is not a sin (newsru.com/russia/20may2021/nosin.html).
· Moscow is sending vaccines to Tajikistan for free, even as Nicaragua has approved the Sputnik-Lite vaccine for use there (stanradar.com/news/full/44789-rossija-besplatno-predostavit-tadzhikistanu-vaktsinu-sputnik-v.html and sputnikvaccine.com/rus/newsroom/pressreleases/odnokomponentnaya-vaktsina-sputnik-layt-odobrena-v-nikaragua/).