Monday, June 14, 2021

With Kremlin Silent, Regions Taking Their Cues on Covid from Moscow City Government

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 13 – With the Kremlin failing to provide leadership, the leaders of regions and republics are taking their cue on how to respond to the latest upsurge in coronavirus cases from the actions of the Moscow city government. After it imposed fresh restrictions, the federal subjects have felt free to follow suit.

            The epidemiological situation outside of Moscow is increasingly dire, but many federal subject leaders appear to have been afraid to get ahead of the center. Normally, they’d be given their cues from the Kremlin, but with Vladimir Putin silent, they are now following Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin.

            That pattern is holding across the country (,, and

            Some commentators are describing this pattern, one that also appears to explain Russia’ pitifully low vaccination rate, on the failure of the federal government and the simultaneous lack of trust in the regime and the fear of taking action without clearance (

            They suggest that this is rapidly leading to catastrophe (, although some experts say the third wave of the pandemic in Russia will not exceed 20,000 new infections a day given the number of people who have recovered from the virus and the smaller share who have received shots (

            Today, Russian government officials reported registering 14,273 new cases of infection, including 8600 in Moscow and Moscow Oblast and 862 in St. Petersburg over the last 24 hours. They also reported 357 new deaths.  Elsewhere numbers were also up but not by as much ( and

            Muscovites in online commentaries savaged Moscow Mayor Sobyanin’s actions and in particular his plans to boost inoculations by giving away cars. “A greater idiotism” can’t be imagined, one Russian posted online. Others were equally critical of his restrictions and apparent confusion (

            One Sobyanin move that may land him in particular trouble came today: he said he had been revaccinated for the coronavirus, something that will strike the overwhelming majority of Russians as an indication that the Russian vaccines can’t be counted on to work for long and an additional reason not to get them (

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