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Russian Opposition To Vaccinations, Pandemic Restrictions Spreads And Intensifies – OpEd

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Almost three out of every four Russians say they are reluctant to get the coronavirus vaccine either because testing is incomplete or because they are skeptical about such shots. Many doctors and commentators share their views (svpressa.ru/society/article/283834/ and themoscowtimes.com/2020/12/08/as-russia-begins-mass-coronavirus-vaccination-its-medics-arent-on-board-a72265).

Meanwhile, and also challenging Moscow’s efforts to get the pandemic under control, Russians are violating restrictions ever more frequently, and some businesses, especially in St. Petersburg,  are declaring that they will ignore restrictions that the authorities have imposed for over the New Year’s holiday (regnum.ru/news/3136312.htmlura.news/news/1052462209svpressa.ru/society/article/283943/echo.msk.ru/news/2754830-echo.htmlanticovidmap.com/regnum.ru/news/3135832.html and club-rf.ru/detail/4748).

Officials are worried negative stories are inflaming the situation and have begun a major crackdown, ordering outlets to remove some reports from their websites (vz.ru/society/2020/12/8/1074643.html and zona.media/news/2020/12/08/rkn-covid). Another concern is that some new parties are supporting the resistance (regnum.ru/news/3136098.html).

Today, Russian officials registered 26,097 new cases of infection and 562 new deaths; they also reported that Russia has no carried out more than 80 million tests for the coronavirus (t.me/COVID2019_official/2137 and regnum.ru/news/3135502.html) as the pandemic continued to spread across the country (regnum.ru/news/society/3132609.html ).

Another concern is that many doctors are getting sick and dying and the remaining ones are increasingly furious at the authorities because more than 60 percent of them have not received the supplements Putin promised they would receive for fighting the coronavirus (ehorussia.com/new/node/22302).

As mass vaccination proceeded in the capital but not yet in the regions, the debate on whether one can drink before or after getting the shots heated up, with officials and doctors issuing contradictory advice from a little alcohol will cause no harm to calls for absolute abstinence for more than six weeks (regnum.ru/news/3136166.htmlregnum.ru/news/3135989.html and newizv.ru/news/society/08-12-2020/zhelayuschim-sdelat-privivku-ot-covid-pridetsya-ne-pit-pochti-dva-mesyatsa).

Even though Russian producers aren’t now capable of manufacturing enough vaccine for Russians, Moscow continues to try to make money and gain influence by offering to send some of the limited supplies abroad, today to Ukraine (lenta.ru/news/2020/12/08/corona_ukraine/, profile.ru/society/s-kakimi-problemami-stolknulis-rossijskie-proizvoditeli-vakcin-ot-covid-19-450120/ and echo.msk.ru/news/2754908-echo.html).

On the economic front, experts said that Russian incomes are now 11 percent lower than they were in 2013 and that there is no reason to expect a dramatic improvement anytime soon (realtribune.ru/news/economics/5552 and ng.ru/economics/2020-12-08/1_8034_economics1.html).

Putin did sign a new law making distance working legal as of January 1. The new law will have at least one consequence: giving the authorities the ability to claim even those who are in fact unemployed are working from home (ura.news/news/1052462199 and svpressa.ru/economy/article/283842/).

Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today, Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin says that at present, 30 of his deputies are infected with the coronavirus (regnum.ru/news/3135782.html).

Officials warned media outlets that fake news from enemies of Russia at home and abroad are being offered to them and that they must be careful not to publish such things (regnum.ru/news/3135659.html).

And Patriarch Kirill lashed out at those in the Russian Orthodox Church who continue to deny that the coronavirus exists and oppose his efforts within the church to prevent its spread (credo.press/234529/ and ahilla.ru/patriarh-kirill-otvetil-na-lozh-teh-klirikov-kto-otritsaet-sushhestvovanie-pandemii-kovida/).

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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