Almost 11 thousand new patients with coronavirus are detected daily in the Russian Federation, and their total number almost doubles every three days. At the same time, Vladimir Putin is hiding somewhere, and the Prime Minister is holding meetings from the hospital – after he himself was found COVID-19.
May 9, in the midst of a pandemic, the Victory Parade was held in Minsk. Just because President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko so wanted.
Accusations of prolonged concealment of information about the appearance of a dangerous virus, as well as distortion of data on the number of patients and mortality rates, are pouring on China. The United States is threatening the PRC with lawsuits and a new trade war to compensate for losses caused to the country’s economy COVID-19. And President Donald Trump insistently calls coronavirus “Chinese.””
The extent of the epidemic in Iran is not known for certain. The authorities of this country are suspected of understating official statistics.
And finally, Turkmenistan simply banned the use of the word coronavirus.
There is a myth (especially widespread in the post-Soviet space) that authoritarian regimes are better than democratic ones for solving global problems and combating disasters, since all the country’s power and main resources are concentrated in the hands of their leaders, and the power apparatus can provide order and mobilize without unnecessary legal reflections population.
But today we have the opportunity to see how a pandemic, pushing back propaganda, vividly demonstrates who is really capable of what, which politicians and political regimes can solve problems, and which have achieved success only in the genre of myth-making.
For some time, we really enthusiastically watched the large-scale measures taken by the PRC leadership to fight the virus, the rapid construction of hospitals for patients with COVID-19, and the strict quarantine that the population of the country organized by communism had organized. This well-coordinated work, together with not so impressive (compared with the same flu) official data on the number of deaths, reassured and inspired confidence that the coronavirus would not break out of the PRC, and indeed it wasn’t so scary. At the same time, everyone somehow forgot about the tendency of authoritarian regimes in general and Communists, in particular, to rewrite statistics and hide reality. Therefore, undoubtedly, the leadership of the PRC acted efficiently and on a grand scale, but it seems that the world was nevertheless misled and, as a result, today suffers from great losses.
At the same time, the beginning of the epidemic in the EU and the US is like a catastrophe that the authorities and doctors could not tame. The EU countries accused each other of a selfish struggle for their own salvation and unwillingness to help neighbors. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has even repeatedly warned of the risk of collapse of the European Union as a project due to coronavirus.
All this looked bad against the background of the organized actions of the PRC leadership, which, moreover, began to send rather scarce (in a pandemic) medical equipment and tests to other countries. Russia also showed a direct altruistic desire to help others. True, this assistance turned out to be of dubious quality and not without the political context. But many Italians, especially in the absence of examples of European solidarity at the beginning of the epidemic, appreciated the help of Russians highly. They also thanked Moscow in Serbia. Of course, aid came to the CIS countries. And finally, President D. Trump called the delivery of medical equipment by the Russian Federation to the United States “cute.”
But the first shock in Western democracies passed, and the picture quickly began to change, not in favor of the “organized” and “internally consolidated” authoritarian states.
It is logical that significantly richer democracies have more opportunities to help their citizens, small and medium-sized businesses, who suffer losses due to restrictive measures. The fact of the matter is that democratic countries are predominantly prosperous. But it’s not only that. Where there is a dominant understanding of the state as a set of institutions serving citizens, financial opportunities, without doubt, and warnings, are aimed primarily at supporting people.
In all developed democracies, programs have been adopted to help citizens and businesses. Especially impressive in the scale and level of organization of the actions of the federal government and state leadership in the United States. The amount of assistance to the unemployed and entrepreneurs, as well as the allocated funds for the purchase of medical equipment in this country already exceeds $ 2.5 trillion. Here people are handed out money (a one-time payment to everyone), products (again, to all those in need) are provided free of charge (who does not have insurance) medical care.
Gradually, everything is getting better with solidarity. As early as April 10, the finance ministers of the EU member states agreed on a set of measures for financial assistance to the member states of the community in the amount of over 500 billion euros. This is in addition to the assistance provided by the European Central Bank. In addition, there are more ambitious plans to create a special Recovery Fund with a budget of over 2 trillion euros to provide loans and grants to member countries in 2021–2027. Of course, countries with credit debts want to receive financial injections from Brussels in the form of grants rather than loans. The determination of the balance between loans and grants is still under discussion. As well as the size of contributions of EU countries to the Fund. This is a difficult issue, which, undoubtedly, will be resolved over time.
Another 7.5 billion is planned to be allocated in the EU for the development of a vaccine.
It helps the EU and other countries of the world. Thus, the EU Council supported the proposal of the European Commission to allocate assistance to Ukraine and nine more neighboring countries of the European Union. For us, the planned amount of 1.2 billion euros.
The US Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have allotted nearly $ 508 million today for medical, humanitarian and economic assistance to other countries. Of these, 14.5 million dollars – to Ukraine.
Regarding neighboring RF and Belarus, the situation there is not in the best way.
Obviously, many readers remember the appearance in February-March of propaganda publications in the Ukrainian information space about the remarkable medical system of neighboring Belarus and the calm, reasonable attitude to the pandemic of President A. Lukashenko, who does not quarantine the state economy. Today, this small country with a population of nine million takes second place after Russia in the number of patients in the post-Soviet space and 13th in the world. People actually turned out to be hostages of the president’s skepticism about coronavirus.
Even schools and kindergartens work here. On a traditional subbotnik for Belarus on April 25, when the situation with the increase in the number of patients was already difficult, more than two million citizens were driven.
It is hard to believe that in the Russian Federation the disease surprisingly appeared later than in Europe and North America. Let us mention more than four thousand kilometers of the common border with China. The speed with which the coronavirus spreads among the population of the Russian Federation indicates that the reaction of the authorities to the appearance of COVID-19 was still belated.
The Russian Federation in terms of the number of patients (with, as we recall, the love of such regimes for “twisting” statistics) today occupies the third place in the world. At the same time, in the Russian Federation, as in Ukraine, they do little tests. Moscow Mayor S. Sobyanin on May 7 suggested that the real number of patients in the city is three times the official.
Something strange is happening with the doctors here. The Internet space is filled with complaints about the lack of remedies. In a protest in the Kaliningrad region, the other day, 350 physicians left immediately. Since the epidemic began in Russia, already three doctors have somehow fallen out of the windows of their hospitals. Some of them are during or after conversations with management. The shortage of doctors here is solved simply – by the mobilization of medical students. Doctors also cannot complain about and accept help from volunteers. Some of them have already been prosecuted for such amateur performances.
The Kremlin, in fact, has stepped aside from solving problems, shifting them onto the shoulders of regional authorities and without providing adequate financial support. As a result, three governors have already quit.
Small and medium-sized businesses are left to the mercy of fate by the Russian authorities. Despite the fact that there is money in the Russian budget, the authorities are in no hurry to spend it on people. Although it also promises cheap loans to business (though the Russians themselves say that it is impossible to get them), and from May 18, grants to enterprises. The logic of the Russian leadership’s actions is simple: small business does not play a big role in the country’s economy, its main function is job creation. The problems of ordinary people authoritarian regimes only concern if these people begin to rebel and pose a threat to the elite. And the Russians traditionally suffer.
Therefore, there will be no targeted monetary assistance. This was stated by the head of the Central Bank E. Nabiullina and Minister of Finance A. Siluanov. And Putin’s spokesman, D. Peskov, added: “The Kremlin is not a bargain for you.” Although the National Welfare Fund stores over $ 125 billion. Not for the needs of citizens, obviously, the country’s foreign exchange reserves were also formed.
At the same time, experts predict a decrease in the income of Russians in the second quarter to 20% and an increase in unemployment to 9.5%.
Weak and greedy is the main conclusion that can be drawn today about the power in the Russian Federation. And this moment is very important because for many Russians it was important to exchange their rights and freedoms for stability and protection from a strong state. This fictitious stability and strength are one of the basic concepts of Russian propaganda, which compares the Russian Federation with countries such as ours, and even with the EU countries. And so-called social contract turned out to be a hoax.
The pandemic will end, but the consequences in different countries will be different and at the same time indicative. The concept of the state for people once again proves its higher efficiency compared to states where people are not a goal, but a means. Finally, focusing on people is not an abstract value, it is an approach that makes the history of a people successful. And in a pandemic, too.
The views and opinions expressed in this opinion article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Eastern Herald.