Staunton, August 4 – Moscow has sought to use the pandemic as a smokescreen to hide from Russians just how far their healthcare system has collapsed as a result of Vladimir Putin’s “optimization” program, Valentin Katasonov says. The authorities argue that the pandemic and not government policy is responsible for all problems (business-gazeta.ru/article/517989).
Support for the MGIMO professor’s position is provided both by protests from doctors about the shortage of cadres, equipment and medicines (trtrussian.com/novosti-rossiya/pochti-90-vrachej-v-rossii-govoryat-o-deficite-medicinskih-kadrov-6230049) and by a new study conducted by three journalistic groups that concludes the Kremlin is hiding the extent of the problems (snob.ru/news/vlasti-rossii-sami-ne-ponimayut-masshtabov-pandemii-covid-19-v-strane-glavnoe-iz-novogo-issledovaniya-meduzy-mediazony-i-holoda/).
But if the regime is hiding things from the population, it isn’t ignoring the figures itself. Regional economic geographer Natalya Zubarevich says Moscow is cutting back on aid to the regions according to what it believes are their population losses from the pandemic (nakanune.ru/articles/117335/).
After all, she reports, officials say that the dead aren’t ill and therefore should not be counted as the basis for the distribution of assistance.
Today, the Russian authorities reported registering 22,589 new cases of infection and 790 new deaths from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours, as the pandemic continued to ebb and flow across the country and with new restrictions outnumbering any relaxations elsewhere (t.me/COVID2019_official/3405, regnum.ru/news/society/3337040.htmland regnum.ru/news/society/3330437.html
On the vaccine front, St. Petersburg received the largest shipment ever of Sputnik-5 vaccine, the military announced it was revaccinating 20,000 soldiers and sailors, and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow is ready to share its medical technology with others to help fight the pandemic (regnum.ru/news/3337283.html, regnum.ru/news/3336768.html and finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/lavrov-predlozhil-rasskazat-stranam-mira-kak-pravilno-borotsya-s-sovid-19-1030688634).
Moscow reported exporting more than 300 million US dollars’ worth of vaccine in the first five months of this year (regnum.ru/news/3336542.html). The Accounting Chamber says Russia spent 2.86 trillion rubles (40 billion US dollars) fighting the pandemic during 2020, one eighth of the government’s total spending (versia.ru/skolko-zarabotali-chinovniki-na-vremennyx-gospitalyax-v-regionax).
· WHO officials in Moscow say the continuing appearance of new strains make it impossible to predict when the pandemic will end (regnum.ru/news/3337410.html).
· Russian TV is broadcasting calls by fortune tellers to try to get Russians to get their immunization shots (newizv.ru/news/society/04-08-2021/gadanie-na-vaktsinatsiyu-ot-koronavirusa-chto-predskazyvayut-yasnovidyaschie-i-ekstrasensy).