In the early days of the pandemic, Russia closed its borders, issued strict warnings about travel (in or out of the country) and went into lockdown. I remember reading something in March about how Russia actually did a halfway decent job of going into lockdown and that they weren’t seeing the same kind of numbers as many European countries. But… of course these things can change in a month. Currently, Russia has the second-largest coronavirus outbreak, second only to (you guessed it) Russia Lite/Nu Russia, the United States. Something which is also sort of interesting? Unlike Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin has not put himself front and center during the crisis. But now he’s the story – his spokesperson tested positive and there are 10,000 new cases a day in Russia:
Russia began to slightly ease its nationwide lockdown on Tuesday even as its number of coronavirus cases continued to grow, with the country overtaking Spain to become the second largest epidemic in the world behind only the United States. Russia’s health ministry said the country now has 232,243 confirmed cases, following a week where it had been registering more than 10,000 new cases a day.
Highlighting the epidemic’s grip, President Vladimir Putin’s longtime spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, on Tuesday also said he had tested positive for the virus and was being treated in a hospital with his wife. Russia’s prime minister Mikhail Mishustin has also already spent more than a week in the hospital after testing positive for the virus. Seeking to allay fears that Putin himself could have been exposed, Peskov told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti that he had not met Putin in person for a month.
Despite that disquieting picture, Russia nonetheless on Tuesday formally began the first phase of easing its lockdown. A day earlier, Putin announced that regions from Tuesday could begin deciding when and how to lift the restrictions that have required businesses to close and non-essential workers to remain at home. That directive means Russia will now likely see a patchwork of different levels of restrictions across its vast territory, as some regions slowly reopen. Others though are likely to remain under strict lockdown for weeks more.
In Moscow, for example, authorities have already extended the lockdown until May 31, although construction sites and factories can now return to work. In the city, which is home to more than half of the country’s total COVID-19 cases, it is also now mandatory for people to wear masks and gloves in public spaces.
It’s actually sort of remarkable how similar our countries are during the pandemic, actually. Trump is also trying to reopen businesses as the numbers swell, and our cities (like New York) are being hit harder than rural areas. And like the infections in Putin’s inner circle, Trump’s inner circle has been testing positive in recent weeks. Anyway, we might as well start our own disinformation campaign against Russia, since we know they’re already doing it to us. I heard that Vladimir Putin already has the virus and they replaced him with a pouty wax figure for photo-ops.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.