Monday, June 21, 2021

Russians in Regions Resent Moscow’s Making Decisions about Pandemic on Basis of Its Experience Alone

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 18 – Russians in the regions resent that decisions about how they should respond to the pandemic are being made in Moscow on the basis of the capital’s unique experience where infections have been much higher than elsewhere, especially given that regional elites feel they have no choice but to follow Moscow’s lead.

            This Moscow-centric approach by Moscow officials has always been true but it is especially obvious now during the pandemic where the situation in many regions is entirely different than in the capital but the regions are being forced, by the center and by their own elites, to do whatever is being done in the center ( and

As of today, almost one in five of the country’s regions and republics have followed Moscow’s imposition of tighter restrictions even if conditions in their populations do not appear to justify such steps. Given how unpopular the restrictions are, Russians in the regions are angry about that ( and

Where local polls have been taken, majorities oppose taking the steps Moscow is insisting on, and now that the term “national security” has been invoked, there seems little chance that Moscow will slow down or not insist on everyone following what it chooses to do (, and

Lawyers say that the regions have a good case against Moscow but that given the way in which the Kremlin controls the courts, there is almost no chance that any suit they would bring against the center on this issue would succeed (

But despite all this, sociologists like Denis Volkov of the Levada Center say that their surveys show that people may be angry but that they are unlikely to engage in mass protests against Moscow on this or other issues ( and

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov is adding fuel to the fire by suggesting that the worsening situation in Moscow and elsewhere reflects “the total nihilism” of the population, and he rejects the suggestion that making distinctions between those who get the vaccines and those who don’t is a problem ( and

Today, Russian officials reported registering 17,262 new cases of infection and 453 new deaths from the coronavirus over the past 24 hours. Moscow and Moscow oblast were the site of more than half of these, as the city and oblast set daily records, although St. Petersburg had one more death than the capital (, and

The Mediazone news agency found in the course of an investigation that one of the reasons for confusion about how many people died from coronavirus in Russia in 2020 was that many people infected with the coronavirus were listed as dying from the pneumonia it led to even though the pandemic was the primary cause (

Despite the spike in Russia, Moscow announced that will open regular air travel with the US and seven other countries on June 28, and will open travel to travel to Turkey on June 22. At the same time, the Russian government said that it would soon permit cross-border land travel with China ( and

In Moscow which is now the largest hotspot in Russia, officials extended restrictions until June 29, even as they ended the enforced time off. They indicated that even more draconian limitations may be ahead ( and

One restriction that has affected many is a ban on treating anyone for scheduled  procedures in city hospitals if the individuals involved have not received their shots ( Officials have told businesses they must enforce vaccinations of their employees if they want to avoid lockdowns (

And Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said that re-vaccination or booster shots must begin immediately ( and acknowledged only 25 percent of the city’s population has high levels of antibodies, despite his past suggestions that 60 percent already are immune (

Anti-vaxxer bloggers are becoming more active as are people who offer fake vaccination certificates (, and

On the economic front, officials announced that some three million Russians are now working from home rather than going to their firms, with Moscow and St. Petersburg, the two largest markets, leading the list (

Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,

·         Moscow has established a national data base of coronavirus mutations (

·         Gamaley Laboratories say they don’t plan to modify the Sputnik-5 vaccine in response to new variants. Earlier they have said that their vaccine can deal with them (

·         The Duma election campaign will have to take place mostly online but there is no talk yet about delaying the September vote ( and

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