The Economist (UK): flash covid-19 in Russia could be much worse than the Kremlin admits

Russia is much more successful in fighting with covid-19 than Western countries and this is due to better health and great leadership. Russia was faced with one of the most significant levels of infection, however the mortality rate in the country is seven times lower than in most other countries. Actually, to disagree with such findings only if you trust Russian statistics.

Few of independent experts is to trust its data. In Russia, officially registered 290 thousand infections covid-19 and 2,700 deaths, and in this case, the mortality rate does not exceed 1%, whereas in Germany it is 4.5%, and in Britain 14%. However, the mortality rate among those working at the forefront of the fight against coronavirus professionals under a special count, about 16 times higher than in comparable countries, and this means that official figures look too embellished, too “pink”.

Nevertheless, these data have allowed Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, to declare may 11, about the end of the period of “nonworking days” — this expression is a euphemism, and it is, in fact, the regime of strict national isolation, which officially has not been announced. Although Vladimir Putin shifted the responsibility for the preservation of the restrictions imposed on the regional authorities, he gave to understand that the most difficult period for Russia has ended. “We should thank our doctors and our President, which are always concerned with saving lives and helping people,” said Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the Russian Duma.

The Russian government and its servile Parliament was disappointed that the same day the newspaper “financial times” reported the following data: the actual number of deaths can be 70% more. The newspaper “new York times” cited the opinion of one expert, who believes that the level of mortality in Russia can be almost three times higher than the official data. These estimates were made on the basis of information on the number of deaths exceeding the usual level. One of the members of the Duma demanded that the persons involved in these publications, the journalists were denied accreditation. Russian state propaganda has unleashed a campaign against what has been called the coordinated attack by the West on Russia, but the true meaning of it was to divert attention from their own problems.

Meanwhile, some Russian doctors social networking talk about what they got the following advice: underestimate data relating to the statistics covid-19, and include only those people who died directly from the disease, and not those that are already suffering from some chronic diseases, which served as an additional cause of their death. Relatives of victims outraged to the limit of this approach.

The resulting confusion is aggravated still and incredible data coming from certain regions. For example, in Krasnodar Krai, the region with a population of 5.2 million people, the number of infected remains almost unchanged from 96 to 99 cases per day, and so it continued for two weeks. Such an option would seem rather unlikely.

Some other regions offer even more bizarre statistics. According to their data, the number of recorded infections in the regional centres and their surrounding territories are mixed, they equalize each other, and the result is a strange straight line of the spread of infections across the region as a whole.

These official figures, apparently, have very little to say about the real scale of the epidemic of coronavirus in Russia. However, they shed light on the Russian political system and the Soviet system, its predecessor, filled with lies and mistrust. The results of the vote in Russia provide similar strange results. Many Russian athletes during the Olympic games in Sochi in 2014, took to increase the results of drugs. Their deception was hidden by replacing the samples with the deposited in the urine, and this occurred with the connivance of the authorities.

According to Konstantin Sonin (Konstantin Sonin) from the University of Chicago, the problem is not that the Kremlin hides or distorts the data, but the fact that he does not have. Many regional rulers are not accountable to the electorate and totally dependent on the Kremlin in terms of status and money. They send embellished “rose” reports to ensure that they are consistent with the official settings. Their goal is to please the President and not the people. “The Kremlin didn’t even need to tell them what data to send; they know what to send you need something that the Kremlin would like to hear,” he said.

In the past few weeks, Russian state television has provided a beautiful illustration of this distorted system. In the West officials at least tried to communicate with the electorate and the media. And Russian television shows, as they isolated themselves government officials report to Mr. Putin during the videoconference. The Russian President used the screen resembles the icon of the Orthodox Church: Mr. Putin is shown in a large Central section and is surrounded by his 12 “apostles” in smaller Windows.

However, such a carefully prepared scene is starting to crack. The popularity rating of Mr. Putin in recent weeks has fallen to historically low levels. The most recent unpleasant event occurred on 17 may, when the Minister of health of Dagestan, a Russian territory in the North Caucasus with a population of 3 million people, reported local blogger that the true number of infections in the Republic is four times higher than the official data, and that as a result of outbreaks of pneumonia near hospitals and clinics died 657 people, not 27 as was officially declared. 40 doctors have already died in the pandemic coronavirus. Mr. Putin blamed the citizens themselves, who are trying to do at home self-treatment.

The city of Moscow and several other cities, more open in its communications policy than the Kremlin itself. City officials acknowledged that the number of cases is much larger, so they retained the mode of self-isolation.

The behavior of the Kremlin during a pandemic coronavirus is reminiscent of some attempts to conceal information about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that prompted Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, to start a policy of glasnost, a policy of greater openness. “The whole system is imbued with the spirit of sycophancy, the persecution of dissidents, cronyism, embellishment of reality. We will put an end to all of this,” said Mr. Gorbachev and his Politburo at the time. Mr. Putin, who changed the Constitution to stay in power indefinitely, is determined not to repeat the experiment, which eventually contributed to the destruction of the entire system.