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What is happening with coronavirus in Russia? It is a thing we have wondered, in fleeting moments, maybe as we've been perusing the Johns Hopkins map and seen just one little dot on top of some Russian chicken farm and thought "bullshiiiiiiiiiiiit." Then we'd forget about it, because, you know, we're kinda busy right now.

Russia may be an authoritarian shithole country with little better to do than inflict damage on the West, but it's not a closed society. People go to there! Russians go to here! At any given time, according to #Science, there are at least 100 Russians in Vladimir Putin's inner circle either coming or going from a meeting with somebody connected to the Trump family. (We made up that #Science.) Presumably they are breathing on folks and saying things like "I know what Paul Manafort did," and presumably other folks are breathing on them too. Surely, they have the coronas!

Reporters finally got a minute to ask the question, and it turns out that of course Russia has the coronas.

Here are some things we know about the coronas in Russia, besides the fact that RBMK reactors can't explode:


  • Vladimir Putin put on his fanciest hazmat suit and went to visit coronavirus patients in the hospital on Tuesday. As of then, the entire nation of Russia was reporting only 495 confirmed cases, and everybody was like "bulllllllshit." Maybe Russia was — wait for it — saying lies? (As of today, they're reporting 658.)
  • However, according to the deputy prime minister of Russia, the nation has actually done more than 100,000 coronavirus tests. So ... maybe they are more on top of it than the Trump administration? But according to the Moscow mayor, ain't shit being done, testing-wise, so maybe they are ... equally on top of it as the Trump administration? The Moscow mayor also says Russia's official numbers are bullshit.
  • Russia had been saying only one person has died of coronavirus, in Russia. And everybody was like "bullllshiiiiiiiit." Then Russia said that person died of "blood clots." Mmhmm sure. (Suddenly, their official death count is up to three.)
  • According to international experts, Russia's coronavirus tests are kinda bullshit. A Russian nurse named Igor says "My my my my!" and if you don't say "Corona!" you are judged to not have it. (We made up that Russian coronavirus test.)
  • There has been a "nationwide uptick in pneumonia" in Russia, huh, wonder if that has anything to do with coronavirus, huh.
  • Nobody knows how much coronavirus there is in Russia.

Garry Kasparov, Is Russia Lying?

Garry Kasparov, the famous chess player and political activist, says Russia is lying:

"Of course Russia is lying about their coronavirus stats and I can say that confidently because they lie about everything," said Kasparov. "Dictatorships lie when they have to—and when they don't; it's about control. Control of information, shaping reality, and, most importantly, appearing all-powerful and all-knowing. If the regime can be surprised or overwhelmed by a virus, maybe it's not so powerful after all, a dangerous line of thought for a repressed population to have. Until there is truly independent testing—and the stories we're hearing out of Russia are not encouraging—we just don't know what's going on."

Thanks, Garry!

You Think American Duck-And-Cover-In-Place Is Weird?

The Washington Post has a couple of articles this week on what's really going on in Russia. In one, they tell the story of infectious disease doctor Irina Sannikova, who went to Spain for a few days and then came back, didn't isolate herself, ended up with coronavirus, and now, "[c]harged with endangering lives, she could face five years in prison if she infected someone who later died of the viral illness." How very Russian they are acting, in Russia!

More on that:

Russia has pulled some tools from its authoritarian toolbox to battle the disease, including the use of facial-recognition technology to track people ordered into self-isolation. The government is also developing a system using geolocation data from mobile operators to monitor individuals. [...]

Teams of police and doctors have been conducting raids on hotels, student dormitories and apartments to track people who traveled from China before the border closure, according to Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.

And if somebody with coronavirus happens to fall down the stairs out of a window into a pond full of polonium, it was probably for the public good, HAHA JUST KIDDING, only if the coronavirus sufferer is a journalist or Putin opponent.

If we sound like we are being dicks, we are, but only because from what we can tell, Russia is just taking all the normal shit it does to people who get on Putin's bad side and doing that instead to suspected coronavirus patients:

Moscow Police Chief Oleg Baranov said last week that [Moscow's 178,000] facial-recognition cameras had detected more than 200 people who violated mandatory self-isolation.

You know, because they're watching everyone.

"It looks more like a police operation, not a medical one," [said Kirill Koroteev of the legal and human rights group Agora]. "I think people are reluctant to accept that they will be facially controlled each time they need to throw out the garbage or buy some bread and buckwheat. Now Muscovites are realizing the potential for abuse."

Li'l bit!

Read that whole article for much, much more, including the story of an infected woman who ran from a Moscow-area hospital, because they wouldn't give them food or water, only to have a Russian doctor show up the next day and then "sat in her apartment for six hours and played with her cat," according to the woman's daughter, who tweeted about the whole situation. Then the cops came.

The other Washington Post piece is more just straight news. They closed their border with China early, and as you can see, they're pretty serious about people in quarantine. You can still go eat your borscht at a restaurant in Moscow, though they have canceled some big events. There is the normal amount of toilet paper available for consumers, allegedly. (The Moscow Times has a liveblog going, if you want to watch events in real time in Russia, allegedly.)

And about that "nationwide uptick in pneumonia." It was a 37 percent increase way back in January:

"While the whole world is facing an outbreak of a new coronavirus, Russia is facing an outbreak of a community-acquired pneumonia. And as usual, we're facing the lie of the authorities," Anastasia Vasilyeva, president of an independent trade union called the Doctors' Alliance, said in a YouTube video that made headlines last week.

Right, and Roy Cohn had "liver cancer."

OK, This Is The Sad Part, Get Ready For Sadness

Because Russia is finally having to suck it up and admit coronavirus exists, that means that they had to reschedule a very important and legitimate free and fair vote, previously set for April 22, on whether to change the constitution so Putin can be president for life.

We warned you we were about to make you sad. And right here at the end of the post and everything.

Anyway, that is what is going on in Russia with coronavirus, allegedly.

And now it is your OPEN THREAD, allegedly.

[U.S. News & World Report / Daily Beast / Washington Post / ibid..]

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Evan Hurst

Evan Hurst is the senior editor of Wonkette, which means he is the boss of you, unless you are Rebecca, who is boss of him. His dog Lula is judging you right now.

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