Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Unless Pandemic Ends Soon, Moscow Likely to Raise Pension Age Again

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 19 – Some Moscow analysts say that unless the pandemic ends soon, the Russian government will be forced to raise the pension age once again, a powerful argument for many Russians to get the shots but yet another reason some of them are likely to vote against the Kremlin’s candidates in the Duma elections (rosbalt.ru/moscow/2021/06/19/1907411.html).

            Other threats, including loss of jobs, exclusion from getting medical care, shaming, and even suggestions that those who refuse to get vaccinated may have to be incarcerated, hasn’t pushed the number of Russians seeking the shots up very much (business-gazeta.ru/article/513263). Threatening their pensions   seems a logical if draconian measure.

            But it may backfire not only because Russians cans see that other governments have done far better than Putin’s in fighting the pandemic but also because they will inevitably view such a move as yet another example of the Kremlin’s forcing the Russian people to pay for its mistakes while protecting the wealthy (finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/antiprivivochnaya-katastrofa-proval-vakcinacii-sulit-rossii-poyavlenie-supervirusa-1030536887).

            And there are two other reasons for anger: the Kremlin has spent more time blaming Russians for not getting vaccinated than helping them and Vladimir Putin has spent more time bragging about how well his policies have worked than ensuring they do (finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/antiprivivochnaya-katastrofa-proval-vakcinacii-sulit-rossii-poyavlenie-supervirusa-1030536887, regnum.ru/news/3300749.html and regnum.ru/news/3300871.html).

            Today, Russian officials reported registering 17.906 new cases and 466 new deaths from the coronavirus, with more than half of the record number of new cases of infection coming from Moscow alone, which had 9120 new cases. Moscow Oblast added another 1456 (t.me/COVID2019_official/3096 and themoscowtimes.com/2021/06/19/moscow-records-pandemic-high-for-covid-cases-second-day-running-a74267).

            Elsewhere, the pandemic continued to ebb and flow. People in several places were outraged they can no longer get medical treatment if they do not have the shots. In the words of one, officials are saying: “sit at home and die if you aren’t vaccinated” (regnum.ru/news/society/3296191.html, regnum.ru/news/3300604.html and  regnum.ru/news/3300717.html).

            Most regions are promoting shots by offering prizes but others, like Chechnya, are threatening people with all kinds of dire outcomes if they don’t (themoscowtimes.com/2021/06/19/coronavirus-in-russia-the-latest-news-june-20-a69117, regnum.ru/news/3300790.html, vz.ru/society/2021/6/19/1104787.html and https://capost.media/news/obshchestvo/v-chechne-posle-ugroz-kadyrova-prinuditelnaya-vaktsinatsiya-nabiraet-oboroty/).

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

·         Some experts are expressing the hope that the third wave will be shorter than the first but others are saying that it may give rise to a new and more deadly super-virus because Russians aren’t getting vaccinated (mk.ru/social/2021/06/19/biolog-rasskazal-o-posledstviyakh-tretey-volny-koronavirusa-pessimisticheskiy-prognoz-sbylsya.html).

·         Russian psychologists are worried about the increasing number of hours people are going online rather than dealing with one another, a trend that they say may make social interactions increasingly difficult to restore (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2021/06/19/1907221.html).

·         Some vaccination facilities in Russia are substituting EpiVakKorona for the Sputnik-5 vaccine, an indication that supplies of the latter, more effective vaccine may be running low (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/06/18/epivakafera).

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