How Bad are Things in Russia? For First Time in 15 Years, Moscow Doesn’t Publish Monthly GDP Figures

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 13, 2020)

For the first time since 2005, the Russian finance ministry did not issue monthly GDP data for May, an indication of just how bad the figures almost certainly would have been and a sign that not publishing data may become a trend in Putin’s Russia (finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/minfin-zasekretil-dannye-po-vvp-rossii-za-may-1029303651 and rbc.ru/economics/12/06/2020/5ee268459a79476bd86bbda3).

Among the indicators that the GDP numbers likely are disastrous was Central Bank head Elvira Nabiullina’s statement that bank profits had fallen to one-sixty-fourth of what they had been only two months earlier and that the recovery of the economy would require at a minimum “several quarters” (agoniya.eu/archives/6066).

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

And in an indication that others are following the government’s lead, Vladimir Legoyda, head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s office for ties with society, said that church would no longer publish data about infections and deaths among the clergy because there is no public interest in releasing that information (credo.press/231492/).

What the Russian authorities have not yet learned is that not publishing attracts more attention than publishing and that the information will eventually surface because the authorities themselves want to use it for this or that purpose (tass.ru/obschestvo/8716555 and zona.media/news/2020/06/13/rosstat).

The figures for the coronavirus Moscow did release today show 8706 new infections bringing the cumulative figure to 520,129 and 114 more deaths for a cumulative total to 6829 (стопкоронавирус.рф/information/). Also today, officials said 32.4 percent of Moscow medical personnel showed antibodies of the virus (interfax.ru/russia/713009).

More openings were announced in some regions while restrictions were imposed in others (gov.spb.ru/press/governor/190365/ and http://babr24.com/irk/?IDE=201667). In Arkhangelsk, activists issued a demand that the city impose more restrictions because of the pandemic hot spot in Severodvinsk (echo.msk.ru/blog/echomsk/2659947-echo/).

Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related news from Russia today,

  • Company officials at two firms announced they plan to begin production of coronavirus vaccines in September (tass.ru/obschestvo/8716645).
  • Experts say that most asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus are young people (capost.media/news/obshchestvo/the-main-part-of-asymptomatic-carriers-of-the-coronavirus-that-causes-young-people-/).
  • And new figures show that 23 percent of all Russians now owe 80 percent or more of their incomes to banks (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/77234)

[article also appeared at windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/06/how-bad-are-things-in-russia-for-first.html]