Russia Is Weathering COVID-19, No Thanks to Putin

A woman walks near Red Square with St. Basil’s Cathedral in the background, in Moscow, Russia, May 12, 2020 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).
A woman walks near Red Square with St. Basil’s Cathedral in the background, in Moscow, Russia, May 12, 2020 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Russia’s COVID-19 story is one of paradoxes. Despite an underfunded public health system, new cases have plateaued since mid-May, and the country has not seen the explosion in deaths from the coronavirus that some experts predicted. Yet President Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings have been sinking. Why? Russians seem to realize that they have so far avoided the worst in spite of Putin’s government, not because of it. As of June 8, the official total of infections was just over 450,000—the third-highest count in the world after the United States and Brazil—but Russian officials say that is because of their high […]

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