Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Putin Managing to Avoid Responsibility but His Pandemic Problems Remain

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 2 – A new Levada Center poll finds that Russians blame the governors rather than Vladimir Putin for their problems with the pandemic and the methods regional officials have taken to fight the coronavirus, a vindication of the Kremlin leader’s strategy of shifting responsibility onto them and away from himself (levada.ru/2021/07/02/doverie-politikam-odobrenie-institutov-i-polozhenie-del-v-strane-3/).

            But Moscow analyst Aleksey Makarkin says any benefit Putin has received is likely to be brief because the rising tide of infections means he must soon choose between mandatory vaccination and a lockdown, both of which are unpopular, faces the prospect the third wave will peak at the time of the Duma elections, and must cope with the fact that Russians will blame Moscow for vaccine shortages (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=60DF56F2D4647).

            As of today, 28 regional governments have made vaccination mandatory for all or at least some of their residents. More might if it were not for the case that shortages of the vaccine are plaguing their efforts at present (regnum.ru/news/society/3310819.html  and severreal.org/a/vaktsiny-net-regionam-ne-hvataet-privivok-ot-kovida/31336203.html).

            As the pandemic continued to intensify, Russian officials reported 23,218 new cases of infection and 679 new deaths from the coronavirus, with most of these concentrated in the two capitals and their adjoining oblasts (https://t.me/COVID2019_official/3187). As the numbers rise, officials are often contradicting one another on exactly how many (znak.com/2021-07-02/skolko_moskvichey_boleli_sovid_19_sobyanin_i_rakova_nazyvayut_raznye_cifry and .nakanune.ru/news/2021/7/2/22608247/).

            The situation in Moscow is especially dire and especially well covered. Officials blame the increases in infections and deaths on public transport, the arrival of new strains, and still inadequate vaccination rates (regnum.ru/news/3311479.html, regnum.ru/news/3311486.html, regnum.ru/news/3311444.html, regnum.ru/news/3311444.html and  regnum.ru/news/3311398.html).

            Two new categories of hotspots are summer youth camps, several of which have had to be closed down, and Russian seaside resorts which along the Black Sea are becoming known as super spreader locations (caucasustimes.com/ru/chernomorskie-kurorty-bjut-rekordy-zabolevaemosti-covid-19/ and regnum.ru/news/society/3310819.html).

            On the vaccination front, the military is beginning booster shots for its soldiers who had the shots earlier and the Russian Guard is boosting its immunization numbers (regnum.ru/news/3312009.html and regnum.ru/news/3311443.html). And Moscow city has announced that it will begin revaccinating older people next week (ng.ru/news/713876.html).

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

·         Moscow is appealing to industry to hand over their supplies of oxygen to meet the demand of hospitals treating coronavirus cases (svpressa.ru/society/article/303116/).

·         And Muslims in the North Caucasus who have been restricted from going to mosque have been told that they can do so for Kurban Bayram (doshdu.com/na-prazdnovanie-kurban-bajrama-v-skfo-razreshat-poseshhenie-mechetej/).

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