Russia Reopened Prematurely And It Probably Has Something To Do With Putin’s 5th Term

Russia’s government lifted its lockdown restrictions, despite having the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases. Officials and the media are suspected to have used fake data to lift the lockdown and hold a national constitutional referendum to extend Vladimir Putin’s term limits.

If we consider this dynamic, and the data itself, to be accurate, a recession can be seen, though the improvement is not sufficient enough to abandon safety measures straightaway.

Russia, like every other country in the world, has been fighting the COVID-19 pandemic for the past several months. Unexpected quarantines have undermined the Russian economy, politics, and way of life. Officials began lifting lockdown restrictions on June 1st, reopening facilities, and claiming that there was no need for restrictive measures. Though, at the time, it was still being reported that hospitals across the country were packed with COVID-19 patients and that their numbers were increasing each day. The official data shows that the number of new COVID-19 cases from June 1st to July 4th decreased from almost 9,000 new cases a day to 6,500. If we consider this dynamic, and the data itself, to be accurate, a recession can be seen, though the improvement is not sufficient enough to abandon safety measures straightaway. Consequently, lifting the restrictions put people in danger and the country at risk of another outbreak. Additionally, the official data we do have is not flawless. For example, it takes several days for the test samples to be processed, depending on the test type. This means that this week’s active cases are really just delayed results from last week. Also, when you compare a low mortality rate to the number of infected people and examine the methodology used to calculate it (for example, the whole city of Sarov was excluded from the federal statistics since May 1st, as Meduza reports), the credibility of the data becomes questionable. 

It is also very likely that these questionable statistics had been propped up because of the vote on constitutional amendments that was held on July 1st. So said, the fabricated decline in the number of COVID-19 cases across Russia served as an excuse for the government to weaken quarantine restrictions and, thus, officially arrange the voting and accelerate the acceptance of amendments. A constitutional referendum, postponed since April, could not be put off any longer as new amendments were extremely important for the government and should have passed as soon as possible. 

Now, as of August 1, several federal regions are quarantined again due to the local increase in COVID-19 cases. The number of infected citizens increases by approximately 5,500 each day and there is the probability of a second outbreak in fall. Politics excessively intertwining with other fields might put citizens at risk and lead to harmful consequences. 

1 These amendments nullify the previous terms of the current president, allowing Vladimir Putin to run for his 5th term as a president in 2024 and stay in power until 2036, which expands his political influence even more.

This article was written by Engel Erendzhenova currently based in Elista, Russia. Please reach out the author via eme320@nyu.edu.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov/File Photo

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