Pandemic has Destroyed Putin’s ‘Sacred’ Standing in the Eyes of Russians, Tsipko Says

Putin at Desk

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 21, 2020) Before our eyes and in a remarkably short time, Aleksandr Tsipko says, the coronavirus pandemic has destroyed the hitherto widely held belief among Russians that the fate of their country and the fate of Vladimir Putin were ineluctably intertwined and even one and the same thing. The senior Moscow […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s small businesses left out in the cold by Covid-19” – Financial Times/ Henry Foy

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“Local service-sector enterprises flounder in an economy dominated by large industrial groups.” “… the Kremlin … [must] demand two seemingly opposing outcomes: maintain restrictions to smother the world’s second-largest number of Covid-19 infections and lift a lockdown [that is shrinking GDP] …. [with] [s]mall and medium-sized businesses … trapped in … between. … forced by … Putin to pay salaries […]

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Many Russians Expect to Lose Jobs, Take Pay Cuts in Wake of Pandemic

File Photo of Empty Chair and Desk with Computer, adapted from image at osha.gov

Almost half of Russians expect layoffs within their household in the coming months and almost one-third have already had someone in their household recently fired, according to a poll conducted April 26-28 […]

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‘Rage Is Brewing’: Navalny Warns Of Public Anger Over Russia’s COVID-19 Response

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

Russian citizens are expressing greater protest sentiment as the spread of the coronavirus and the state’s fight against it has left many people dissatisfied, including doctors and small-business owners, said one of the nation’s most influential opposition activists. […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Economy Suffers Double Hit From Oil Slump and Coronavirus” – Wall Street Journal/ Thomas Grove, Georgi Kantchev

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“As infections grow, Russia finds a shortfall in oil revenue hurts its ability to offer the kind of emergency support provided in the West.” “… [Russia’s] slump … began … when coronavirus lockdowns in China and elsewhere pushed oil prices lower. … Putin’s hesitance in joining … big producers to curtail output compounded the problem, driving oil to its lowest […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin Wants Russia to Get Back to Normal. New Outbreaks Show It May Be Too Early.” – Moscow Times

Russia Regions Map

Budget deficits are driving regions to lift quarantine restrictions. But poor data could be hiding a second coronavirus wave. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Evan Gershkovich – May 21, 2020) Before 136 employees of the distribution center for the popular Krasnoe & Beloe discount liquor chain in central Russia’s Sverdlovsk region tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday, the region […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s GDP shrinks by 20% in April, but government maintains a triple surplus” – bne Intellinews

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… Russia’s nominal GDP shrank … 28%, of which two-thirds was due to the nation-wide lockdown … another third … due to … oil prices, the Ministry of Finance said …. The real contraction of the economy in April could be 20%, according to the Ministry …. [T]he government has reported … surplus[es] [for] the trade balance, currency account and […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Anatomy of lies; Russia’s covid-19 outbreak is far worse than the Kremlin admits” – The Economist

Kremlin and River

“Like its Soviet predecessor, Vladimir Putin’s system is steeped in falsehoods.” “… official numbers reveal less about covid-19 than they do about Russia’s political system … like its Soviet predecessor, … saturated with lies. Russian elections throw up similarly strange graphics. Many Russian athletes … took performance-enhancing drugs … their cheating … covered up … with official connivance. … [One […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Says Many Coronavirus Patients Died of Other Causes. Some Disagree” – Reuters

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

“… [There have been] thousands of Russians infected with the novel coronavirus whose deaths have been put down to other causes. Russia has registered the second highest number of infections globally, at 299,941 total cases, and 2,837 deaths. … a death rate of 1.88 per 100,000 …. The equivalent U.S. figure is 27.61 per 100,000 …. 52.45 in Britain. … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Ukraine’s Overburdened Doctors in Desperate Virus Fight” – AP

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

“… [The] … broken or substandard equipment, a lack of drugs, low wages [] reflect[] the meltdown of Ukraine’s health care system … quickly overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic even with the country’s relatively low number of cases. Ukraine’s corruption-plagued economy has been weakened by six years of war with Russia-backed separatists in the east. … Zelenskiy’s year-old administration inherited […]

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RUSSIALINK: “As the Coronavirus Contagion Grows in Russia, Putin’s Strongman Image Weakens” – Moscow Times

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

With an economic crisis heaving into view, the Russian president ‘looks like an old, sick wolf.’ (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Evan Gershkovich – May 14, 2020) If you were taking your cues from Russia’s longtime leader Vladimir Putin this week, you would have been left thinking that the country’s worst struggles with the coronavirus pandemic were over. “Starting tomorrow, […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia Is a ‘Distinct Civilization,’ Putin Says” – Moscow Times

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium with United Russia Logo, Gesturing

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 18, 2020) Russia is a distinct civilization that must be protected through genetics and other advanced technologies, President Vladimir Putin said in an interview that aired Sunday. Putin told state television that “it would be impossible to secure the future of our civilization” without artificial intelligence, genetics and unmanned vehicles, as well as hypersonic […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia reports almost 10,600 new Covid-19 cases (+4.2%), 113 deaths in past 24 hours – HQ” – Interfax

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

MOSCOW. May 15 (Interfax) – Russia detected 10,598 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours [9,974 cases in 84 regions the day before], the coronavirus response headquarters said in a statement on Friday. “Over the past day, 10,598 Covid-19 cases were confirmed in 85 regions of Russia, including 4,504 active asymptomatic cases (42.5%),” the statement said. The cumulative number […]

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WHO Representative Downplays Doubts About Russian Coronavirus Figures

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings

(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – May 14, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/who-representative-downplays-doubts-about-russian-coronavirus-figures/30611973.html) The World Health Organization’s representative in Russia has downplayed doubts about the country’s coronavirus statistics even as new public data suggests authorities may be undercounting the death toll from the pandemic. The comments from Melita Vujnovic, in an […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Moscow shifts to new Covid-19 testing level, ELISA tests – Sobyanin” – Interfax

Sergei Sobyanin file photo

MOSCOW. May 14 (Interfax) – The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, also known as ELISA, will increase the daily number of coronavirus tests carried out in Moscow to 100,000, or even 200,000, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Thursday. “We have a new objective today: we need to achieve a new level of quality and quantity of testing using ELISA systems. Moscow […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Coronavirus crisis leaves Russian government rudderless” – Financial Times/ Henry Foy, Max Seddon

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

Prime ministerial stand-in faces task of managing pandemic while getting economy moving again ….

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “What’s preventing a respite from the broken U.S.-Russia relationship?” – Defense News/ Steven Keil

“… In addition to a rare joint statement … Trump and … Putin connected numerous times over the past several weeks according to public reports. These developments stand out … [T]ies between Moscow and Washington have long been frozen in place. [Recent developments are] even more surprising given the Kremlin’s continued actions in places like Syria and Ukraine. The dual […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin Eases Nationwide Virus Lockdown as Russia Becomes 3rd Most-Infected Country” – Moscow Times

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

… Putin has eased Russia’s “non-working” period imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus even as Russia emerges as Europe’s new coronavirus hotspot. …

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia Is Boasting About Low Coronavirus Deaths. The Numbers Are Deceiving.” – Moscow Times

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

Suspicions are growing that Russia is undercounting its coronavirus death toll. Although the country has the second fastest growing outbreak in the world after the United States, its mortality rate falls far below other countries.

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Kto-Kogo: Putin vs. COVID-19

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

“… the situation could evolve in a bleaker direction, eroding Putin’s authority and enticing elites to consider alternatives, such as blocking Putin’s bid for reelection in 2024. But, for the past twenty years, Putin has been a skillful and a lucky leader. That has kept him at the top of the system. This year will tell whether his skill or his luck – or both – have run out.”

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia’s Economic Woes Continue to Mount During Coronavirus Outbreak” – Moscow Times

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

As the Kremlin resists pressure to spend, official statistics show economic activity down by a third and tax revenues crashing. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jake Cordell – May 6, 2020) Jake Cordell covers business & economics for The Moscow Times. A third of the Russian economy has ground to a halt because of the coronavirus lockdown, the Russian government […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin, Trump discuss anti-coronavirus efforts, situation on global oil market – Kremlin” – Interfax

Vladirmir Putin and Donald Trump Sitting in Chairs with Flags Behind, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

MOSCOW. May 7 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin and United States President Donald Trump discussed efforts to counter the coronavirus pandemic and the situation on the global oil market in a telephone call on Thursday, the Kremlin press service said. “The heads of state exchanged greetings on the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazism. They emphasized a historic […]

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Luis Alcalá: “Re: ‘Three Russian doctors fall from hospital windows'”

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings

Subject: [UTExpertsDiscGrp] Re: “Three Russian doctors fall from hospital windows” Date: Thu, 7 May 2020 From: Luis Alcalá <luismalcala@gmail.com> It is a waste of time to comment on these news. In England and the USA, medical personnel commit suicide and nobody says it is the fault of Trump or Boris, but in the news about Russian suicides or accidents they […]

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Andrei Liakhov: “Re: [UTExpertsDiscGrp] ‘Three Russian doctors fall from hospital windows'”

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings

Subject: Re: [UTExpertsDiscGrp] “Three Russian doctors fall from hospital windows” Date: Tue, 5 May 2020 0 From: ‘Andrei Liakhov’ via “Untimely Thoughts” – An Expert Discussion Group on Russia <untimely_thoughts_an_expert_discussion_group_on_russia@googlegroups.com> I do not know about the gents, but I have relatives who work and live in Star City where everyone knows everyone else. The doctor in Star city has not […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “As coronavirus hits record numbers in Russia, this is a dangerous moment for Putin” – CNN/ Nathan Hodge

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

“Russia hit a grim milestone … officially recording the highest number of coronavirus cases the country has seen in a 24-hour period, with 10,633 people testing positive. … [T]he economic pain is worsening … Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on state television … ‘I don’t recall anything like this,’ … adding that plummeting global oil prices — a primary source […]

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Russia To Adjust Spending On Putin’s ‘National Projects’ As Economy Hit By Coronavirus

Kremlin and River

(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – May 3, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-to-adjust-spending-on-putin-s-national-projects-as-economy-hit-by-coronavirus/30590575.html) Russia may alter spending plans for a series of national goals promoted by President Vladimir Putin two years ago as the spread of the coronavirus slashes budget revenues. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on May 3 that the […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin, Russia’s Man of Action, Is Passive, Even Bored, in the Coronavirus Era” – New York Times/ Andrew Higgins

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

“The pandemic has derailed Vladimir V. Putin’s plans for a big military parade and a referendum extending his rule – and now knocked out his prime minister – as the Russian leader struggles to find his stride.” “This was supposed to be a moment of triumph for … Putin, a celebration of his grand successes … restoring the Russian state […]

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Russia’s Health Care System, Demographics Present Unique Advantages, Disadvantages in Fighting COVID-19

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Alexandra Vacroux – April 30, 2020) Alexandra Vacroux is executive director of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies and a lecturer on government at Harvard University.  The coronavirus hit Russia late, but is now gathering steam. This week, identified cases have been increasing by around 6,000 daily. As elsewhere, we can assume that […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin’s Business Tsar Attacks Economic Lockdown; Poverty and starvation are as much a problem as the coronavirus, said Boris Titov” – Moscow Times

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 27, 2020) President Vladimir Putin’s “business tsar” has called for the government to end the economic lockdown and reopen the economy. Boris Titov, the president’s business ombudsman, announced Monday he will organize an online protest Friday calling for businesses to be reopened, as frustration at the government’s economic response to the coronavirus grows throughout […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Kremlin Using Virus Outbreak to Push Through Putin’s Reforms: Proekt” – Moscow Times

Kremlin and River

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 29, 2020) The Kremlin is attempting to take advantage of Russia’s coronavirus outbreak to maintain President Vladimir Putin’s popularity and ensure that the public votes for his constitutional reforms, the Proekt investigative outlet reported Wednesday, citing unnamed federal officials. The reforms would potentially allow Putin, 67, to extend his 20-year rule into 2036. Putin […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s economic woes will clip Vladimir Putin’s wings; Pandemic combined with collapsing oil prices spells real hardship” – Financial Times

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“… Putin’s … oil price war with Saudi Arabia … was disastrously timed. … days before the coronavirus pandemic began forcing economies around the world into lockdown, cutting crude demand. Russia then succumbed to the virus itself. … [Putin] had to cancel a referendum to approve constitutional changes …. The IMF forecasts Russian [GDP] could contract by 5.5 per cent […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Facing Disaster, Russian Businesses Find Kremlin Aid Lacking” – AP

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“Desperate [Russian] business owners … have been pleading with the Kremlin for help in the pandemic shutdown. The response … has been slow and largely focused on big industries, leaving most smaller companies to fend for themselves … raising the prospect of massive unemployment and social unrest. The Kremlin’s anti-crisis measures reflect its long-held emphasis on state-controlled companies and a […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin Extends Russia’s Coronavirus Lockdown as New Infections Continue to Rise” – Moscow Times

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 28, 2020) [Transcript and video in Russian: kremlin.ru/events/president/news/63288] President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday extended the national “non-working” month through May 11, warning that Russia has yet to see the peak of its coronavirus outbreak. Russia now ranks eighth in the world for coronavirus infections, with 93,558 confirmed Covid-19 cases as of Tuesday. Putin originally […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia Starts Drawing Up Lockdown Exit Plans; Putin’s spokesman said the situation will become ‘easier’ in June” – Moscow Times

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 27, 2020) Russia will begin drawing up lockdown exit plans to switch the economy back on, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said Monday. In a meeting with ministers, Mishustin ordered various government departments to start working out how businesses could get back to work once the coronavirus pandemic becomes less severe, news site RBC reported. […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Coronavirus in Russia: The Latest News | April 27” – Moscow Times

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 27, 2020) As the new coronavirus that has killed more than 206,000 people worldwide continues to spread, Russia has stepped up its measures to slow the pandemic’s spread within its borders. There have been 87,147 cases of coronavirus infections reported in Russia so far and 794 deaths. April 27: 3 things you need to […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia may begin easing coronavirus restrictions after May 12 – Rospotrebnadzor head” – Interfax

Russia Map

MOSCOW. April 27 (Interfax) – The restrictions introduced in Russia to slow the spread of the new coronavirus epidemic may begin to be relaxed step by step after May 12, on the condition that people strictly observe these restrictions in the beginning of May, Anna Popova, head of the Russian Federal Service for Health and Consumer Rights (Rospotrebnadzor), said in […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia Seeks to Revive Coronavirus-Hit Tourism Industry by Cutting Visa Red Tape” – Moscow Times

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

Russia’s Federal Tourist Agency (Rostourism) wants to help the industry recover from the coronavirus crisis by relaxing visa rules after the country reopens its borders, the RBC news website reported Friday. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 24, 2020) Russia grounded international flights, except those that return its nationals from abroad; closed border crossings; and suspended issuing visas and e-visas […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The Coronavirus Could Imperil Putin’s Presidency” – Wall Street Journal/ Leon Aron

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

Russia entered the crisis with a stagnant economy, and its oil-price war with the Saudis isn’t helping. “… the pandemic could hardly have come at a worse time …. Russia entered the crisis in a weakened state. Its longest stagnation in modern history …. 12%[] were below the subsistence minimum …. Most of the impoverished were working. … Rosstat, reported […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Easter in Russia: Between Church and State, a New Divide Has Risen” – NYU Jordan Center/ Kathryn David

File Photo of Russian Orthodox Cathedral with Man in Religious Garb in Foreground

“… The enormous variances in how priests chose to observe Easter this year in Russia hints at the broader context that frames the divide between those following church-related COVID restrictions and those ignoring them: the complex relationship between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian state. While many commentators have remarked on the tight partnership between the church and state in […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Cuts Interest Rate to Shore Up Faltering Economy” – Wall Street Journal/ Georgi Kantchev

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

The central bank takes action as the country lurches towards a recession. “Russia’s central bank cut its benchmark interest rate in a move to shore up the country’s economy as it lurches toward a deep recession due to depressed oil prices and shutdowns over the spread of the coronavirus. … lower[ing] its key rate by a deeper-than-usual 50 basis points […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s edtech companies step up in the pandemic; Expansion of online learning might help modify the country’s archaic education system” – Asia Times/ Dmitriy Frolovskiy

File Image of Laptop Computer, Tables and Mobile Device, adapted from image at energy.gov

“… looming economic fallout in Russia could wipe out as much as 10% of gross domestic product … yet … could also deliver … transformative shifts. Educational technology is one of the areas destined to grow worldwide. Russia is not an exception … expansion of online learning might also help modify the country’s archaic education system. [Covid-19 s]tay-at-home policies … […]

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Don’t Bet on Reset: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Wake of the Coronavirus

Vladirmir Putin and Donald Trump Sitting in Chairs with Flags Behind, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Nikolas K. Gvosdev – April 22, 2020) Nikolas K. Gvosdev is the Captain Jerome E. Levy chair at the U.S. Naval War College and a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI). Vladimir Putin, during his two-decade tenure as either Russia’s president or prime minister, has now experienced several iterations of a peculiar […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Coronavirus in Russia: The Latest News | April 23” – Moscow Times

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 23, 2020) As the new coronavirus that has killed more than 184,000 people worldwide continues to spread, Russia has stepped up its measures to slow the pandemic’s spread within its borders. There have been 62,773 cases of coronavirus infections reported in Russia so far and 555 deaths. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in […]

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Pandemic has Changed Russians, But Can It Change Russia?

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 17, Issue 54 –  Paul Goble – April 21, 2020) The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has changed Russians more fundamentally than any past revolution. In particular, the government’s response and the changes in day-to-day life for the average Russian has destroyed traditional widespread faith in society that Russia’s authorities are omnipotent while […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Moscow’s coronavirus offensive; As the epidemic ravages Europe, the Kremlin has dialed up the disinformation and propaganda” – Politico.eu/ Hannah Roberts

File Image of Artist's Conception of Globe with Curved Connecting Lines of Light Passing Through Space, adapted from image at fincen.gov

“As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, Russia appears to be observing the adage that you should never let a good crisis go to waste. Seeking to capitalize on the chaos and promote its own soft power, the Kremlin has taken Beijing’s lead and started love-bombing struggling nations with medical aid, and stepping up its efforts to broadcast propaganda and sow disinformation […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Is Testing US Military for Weaknesses Amid Pandemic, General Says” – Military.com/ Gina Harkins

File Photo of F-22 Fighter and Ground Crew

“Russia is testing whether the U.S. military has developed any weaknesses during the novel coronavirus crisis, a top general said, noting three run-ins with that country’s planes over a two-month period. ‘We just want to make it very clear to them … there are no vulnerabilities as a result of COVID-19,’ Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, head of U.S. […]

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