How Putin Is Using Coronavirus to Stay in Power

A global crisis plays a convenient role in the Russian president’s scheme to keep his job.

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Can We Trust Russia’s Low Coronavirus Infection Rate?

MOSCOW – The fight against coronavirus has stopped performances by the world famous Bolshoi Theater company, something that even World War II couldn’t do.

It’s part of Russia’s efforts to contain an outbreak which President Putin claims as “a whole is under control.”

For weeks, Russia only reported a handful of infections. Then on Monday, that number went from 63 to 93. The next day it was 114, and the day after 147.

The government jumped into action— closing the border to foreigners, banning gatherings of more than 50, and forcing residents returning from abroad to self-isolate. Muscovites responded by stockpiling, emptying supermarket shelves and wearing face masks.

But for some experts this response might be coming too late. Anastasia Vasilyeva, Head of an independent doctors union, Doctors Alliance told VICE News, “Across the country, there are a huge amount of patients with pneumonia … we cannot ignore the coincidence and link these pneumonia cases with Coronavirus. In my opinion, there are tens of thousands of cases that we don’t know about.”

She’s not the only one who is worried that the rate of infection in a country of 146 million people, that borders China on one side and Europe on the other, seems suspiciously low. Especially because most people who arrived from abroad haven’t been tested.

Although Putin claims Russia has curtailed the spread of the epidemic he’s called for an increase in the production of tests and more supplies of medicine and equipment. The government has gone so far as to order prisoners to start making face masks.

But for Vasilyeva, the national response isn’t going far enough: “Russia is absolutely not ready for the epidemic. I am more than sure that even serious cases and deaths will be simply hidden from the population.”

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Russians ponder having Putin remain in power | AFP

Russians react as the prospect sunk in of Russian President Vladimir Putin staying in power until 2036. Lawmakers in the lower house State Duma voted Wednesday to give final approval to a package of constitutional amendments introduced by Putin — including a last-minute addition to “reset” his presidential terms. from MoscovitesN°1PS4HN

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Russia deputies to vote on Putin’s constitutional reform | AFP

Russian lawmakers vote on a package of constitutional reforms as President Vladimir Putin looks to put his stamp on the country for decades to come. The reforms — expected to sail through the lower house State Duma in the key second reading — will overhaul Russia’s political system and enshrine conservative values in the country’s basic law. IMAGES

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Putin y Erdogan anuncian acuerdo de alto el fuego en Siria

Putin y Erdogan anuncian acuerdo de alto el fuego en Siria

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Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan start talks in Moscow on Syria | AFP

The leaders of Russia and Turkey meet in Moscow after a surge in fighting in Syria raised fears of their armies clashing and launched a new migrant crisis. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he is looking for Putin to agree to a rapid ceasefire in Idlib, the northwestern province of Syria where Ankara is battling Moscow-backed regime forces. IMAGES

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Thousands march in Moscow for ‘Russia without Putin’ | AFP

Thousands rally in central Moscow to call on President Vladimir Putin not to stay in power indefinitely, in the first major protest by the Russian opposition since the Kremlin chief announced controversial plans to change the constitution. The rally marks five years since the assassination of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov but its organisers also want the event to send a message to Putin after he proposed major constitutional changes. Organisers, including the country’s most prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny, called for a mass turnout to show Putin that he must not consider staying in power by any means when his current mandate ends in 2024.

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Opposition urges ‘Russia without Putin’ in rally for slain liberal | AFP

Thousands rally in central Moscow to call on President Vladimir Putin not to stay in power indefinitely, in the first major protest by the Russian opposition since the Kremlin chief announced controversial plans to change the constitution. IMAGES

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On magnets and mugs, Putin’s face still sells | AFP

Twenty years after he came to power, President Vladimir Putin is omnipresent, not only across Russia’s airways, but on the magnets, mugs and matryoshka dolls on sale to visitors throughout his hometown of Saint Petersburg.

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Russia funds IVF baby boom to battle population slump | AFP

Russia has seen its population fall during much of the period since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. Its current population of 146 million is predicted to fall by 4 to 12 million by 2035. President Putin has rolled out a number of policies aimed at encouraging people to have babies. Since 2013, the IVF procedure has largely been state-funded under a compulsory health insurance scheme.

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Netanyahu meets US-Israeli woman jailed for drug trafficking after Putin gives pardon | AFP

Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu meet Naama Issachar, a US-Israeli woman who was jailed for drug trafficking in April 2019 after she was arrested at a Moscow airport en route from India to Israel. Issachar’s case caused an outcry in Israel and she was set to fly back with Netanyahu after she was pardoned by President Vladimir Putin. IMAGES

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Putin meets with Netanyahu in Moscow | AFP

Vladimir Putin receives Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Kremlin. IMAGES of the meeting

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Schiff: Trump made a ‘religious man’ out of Putin

Rep. Adam Schiff jokingly referenced a comment made by Vladimir Putin in November. He said President Donald Trump shifted the blame of 2016 election interference to Ukraine, prompting Putin to “thank God” that Russia was no longer the focus. (Jan. 23)

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