Back in March, Russia was proud to announce that it was able to send help and materials to Corona stricken Italy. A show of Russian strength from the Kremlin which is now costing it dearly as the local population understands that the mighty Russian bear is failing it’s fight against the virus. Support for the almighty president Putin has dropped to levels never seen before, which has many European analysts wondering: will Putin lose his iron grip on Russia due to the growing Coronacrisis?
Six people died this week in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg because the ventilators that they were hooked on caught on fire. In on Saint-Petersburg hospital, the nurses were so disgruntled that they told the story to a local reporter: Four out of five patients were intoxicated by the fumes coming out of the machines, the fifth died in the flames.
The United States said on Wednesday that it would no longer use the respirators it recently received from Russia to fight the coronavirus. According to a spokesperson for the US emergency agency FEMA, these devices were of the same type as those that caught fire in Russia, the Aventa-M.
A few hours later, the Russian consumer watchdog also reported that use of the Aventa-M will be suspended until the investigation into the fire is complete.
Regions don’t dare to report true numbers
Meanwhile, with more than 242,000 corona infections and more than 10,000 new cases every day, Russia has risen to second place on the list of the most affected countries. There are no signs that growth is leveling off, and no one believes the low number of reported deaths (2,212) is accurate.
Local governments are keeping figures under control so as not to deviate from other regions, afraid of Moscow’s wrath if they report true figures. In many hospitals, doctors give “pneumonia” or “lung and heart failure” as the cause of death.
How different the situation was a few weeks ago. Russian President Vladimir Putin then said confidently that the situation was under control. In fact, Russia was able to afford to help countries hit badly by the disease, such as Italy, Serbia and even the US.
An Italian top official already admitted anonymously that 80 percent of Russian aid is useless. Moreover, when the situation in Russia itself got out of hand, the nineteen Russian doctors (all employed by the Ministry of Defense, which also raised suspicion) were promptly recalled home.
Moscow Mayor contradicts Kremlin
Meanwhile, Putin is also faced with the seriousness of the situation, but seems unable to deal with it. He stubbornly refuses to take the lead in the fight against Corona and makes half-hearted statements. These sometimes go directly against the actions of the Moscow mayor Sergej Sobjanin.
The difference in opinion between the two became painfully clear last Monday, when Putin announced that the month of “no work” was over and everyone had to go back to the office. Two days earlier, Sobjanin extended the quarantine until May 31 and tightened the measures in the capital (where more than half of all infected cases in Russia are coming from): as from Tuesday it became mandatory to wear a mask and gloves in shops and public transport.
A Russian dared to write on Twitter: “The President of Russia could now be fined by the mayor of Moscow for going to work.”
The chaos is also reflected in Putin’s popularity. In the polls, only 59 percent say they support the president. A record low for the eternal Russian despot.