Coronavirus in Russia: public discontent grows, oligarchs plug holes

Coronavirus outbreak: Mystery grows regarding Russian doctors; possible new timeline for virus

Coronavirus in Russia: public discontent grows, oligarchs plug holes

Coronavirus in Russia: public discontent grows, oligarchs plug holes

Vladimir Putin accused of trying to distance himself from the situation for fear of political consequences

WASHINGTON – They once rushed to grab everything they could from the crumbling Soviet state, taking advantage of the political and economic chaos of Boris Yeltsin’s post-communist era to get their hands on state-owned enterprises, oil wells and mineral deposits for a pittance. Today, Russian oligarchs are in a hurry to help the state contain the spread of coronavirus.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been accused of trying to distance himself from the pandemic for fear of political repercussions, some analysts say.

The governors, in turn, have discovered that the oligarchs are ready to help them plug the holes left by the state in the fight against the virus..

Some were surprised by the sudden burst of social responsibility of a number of major Russian business players, including the steel magnate Alexei Mordashov, who insisted that the governors close four cities where his factories are located, and Vladimir Potanin, who spent more than a hundred million dollars on test kits, individual protection and artificial respiration apparatus.

Metallurgical tycoon Oleg Deripaska funds three clinics for Covid-19 patients in Siberia.

The oligarchs portray their participation as a manifestation of patriotism, trying to avoid criticism of the state strategy, although Deripaska in March called on the Kremlin to close all borders and impose a 60-day quarantine in the country..

Coronavirus in Russia: public discontent grows, oligarchs plug holes

Patriotism or not, analysts believe the oligarchs rushed to help out of fears that Putin’s system, which also protects their wealth, faces serious risks..

The Russian president has so far postponed plans for a constitutional change that would allow him to remain in power for another 12 years, while the Kremlin is trying to cope with the virus and the economic crisis simultaneously, said Tatiana Stanovaya, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center. “This double challenge was the biggest shock in the history of the Putin regime and could increase public discontent,” she said..

The economic impact is mounting.

A quarter of Russians of working age have either already lost their jobs or believe that this will happen soon.

Six out of ten Russians have no savings. Several protests have already taken place in the country, and analysts believe there is a real prospect of larger unrest once the pandemic begins to gain traction outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg, where the healthcare system has been in disrepair for many years..