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Coronavirus: No Russia lockdown as Putin places on present of calm

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Media captionThis non permanent hospital, on the outskirts of Moscow, is designed to cater for 500 sufferers

Russia’s president had huge plans for this spring, all about stressing stability and projecting power.

But that agenda has been hijacked by the unfold of coronavirus and a dramatic plunge in each the oil worth and rouble.

April was earmarked for a vote to approve adjustments to the structure, permitting Vladimir Putin to stay in energy into his 80s.

May would see a large army parade, marking the 75th anniversary of Victory Day.

The new temper right here is considered one of nervous uncertainty.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption A victory parade 75 years after World War Two continues to be scheduled to go forward regardless of issues concerning the unfold of Covid-19

For now, each vote and parade are nonetheless formally on and Mr Putin is conveying a picture of calm in turbulent instances.

He’s declared the outbreak of Covid-19 “under control” in Russia because of its “timely” measures, whereas state media protection has slammed Europe for “mismanaging” the pandemic and highlighted a “failure of EU solidarity”.

So as European leaders centered on quarantine and disaster, President Putin headed for Crimea to have fun six years since Russia annexed the territory from Ukraine.

It’s a deliberate present of enterprise as standard: the president out and about, assembly crowds and shaking palms, not “social-distancing”.

But it’s a present.

Everyone who comes into shut contact with President Putin is now being examined prematurely for coronavirus.

Those screened embody all the lads getting medals pinned to their chests in Crimea this week, in addition to Kremlin employees and accredited journalists. A couple of weeks in the past, they only acquired temperature checks.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Putin has not been examined, however everybody else on this image, taken in Sevastopol in Crimea, was

“We consider this a justified step so the president can continue his work with confidence,” his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov advised the BBC.

Vladimir Putin himself has not been examined.

“He has no symptoms, and – touch wood – feels great and continues his work according to schedule,” Mr Peskov defined.

But the an infection fee in Russia has begun to escalate even in response to official figures, which some suspect are being massaged.

So regardless of President Putin’s characterisation of Covid-19 as one thing imported, a “foreign threat”, protecting measures are rising.

They embody every part from border and faculty closures to a ban on mass gatherings.

But there isn’t any all-out order to remain at house and on Friday the Kremlin insisted {that a} lockdown for Moscow was “not being discussed at all”.

Many suspect the reticence is straight related to the constitutional vote and a want to safe Mr Putin’s path to re-election as quickly as attainable.

That course of has moved so mysteriously quick from the very begin it has been dubbed a “special operation”.

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Media captionPutin’s plans: What the Russian president’s shock means

Opposition chief Alexei Navalny has warned that holding the vote, bringing pensioners out en masse mid-pandemic, could be “criminal” and officers have harassed that it would but be postponed for security, or moved on-line.

But on Friday, Russia’s electoral fee revealed plans merely to unfold the poll over every week to restrict crowds.

“There is great desire to conduct this vote, not to shelve it,” political analyst Konstantin Kalachev advised Nezavisimaya Gazeta, suggesting that officers nonetheless hope “everything will blow over” and Russia can be spared the worst.

For some, that method to the epidemic extra broadly is reassuring. There’s a well-liked saying right here that the much less you understand, the higher you sleep.

“We don’t want to hear more, it’s frightening,” Ksenia, an ice cream vendor in a Moscow suburb defined. “We know we have to wash our hands and not go out too much, but people are already buying up everything in the shops and it’s scary,” she mentioned.

But just some miles from her kiosk, an emblem of the newest disaster to hit Russia – and far of the world – is rising every single day. A model new non permanent hospital is being constructed at excessive pace to take care of as much as 500 sufferers with coronavirus.

Elsewhere, the defence ministry reviews it is performed emergency drills for virus management and all Russian areas have been placed on excessive alert.

The vote to delay Vladimir Putin’s keep in energy, although, continues to be on target for 22 April.

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