RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 15, 2020

Today in Russia: Oil price falls more despite OPEC+ deal; Electronic pass-system comes into effect in Moscow leading to large queues and crowds at metro stations; Veterans urge the postponement of the May 9 Victory Day parade; COVID-19 cases continue to rise with record daily increase in infections; Alcohol consumption surges during coronavirus, raising concerns; How a Russian state-run outlet falsely reported UK PM needed ventilator.

Despite the historic OPEC+ agreement, oil prices have continued to tumble and crude inventories reach record levels. The huge build-up in inventory is a major culprit for the slide in oil prices despite production cuts.

Moscow unveiled an electronic pass system to determine who is allowed to venture outdoors. The result – after the police mandated that all passengers on the metro have their passes checked – is massive queues and crowds, precisely the outcome that the government hoped to avoid by mandating that people stay home. Meanwhile, Moscow revoked 900,000 of the 3.2 million digital passes issued, after it claimed that it had initially accepted passes containing incorrect information.

Russia confirmed 3,388 more COVID-19 cases, a daily record for the country. The total number of cases has reached 24,490.

Veterans urge that Russia postpone the massive 9th of May Victory Day parade over coronavirus fears. The government has resisted outright cancellation, with rehearsals being held as recently as April 6. The organizers of the event suggested last week that veterans not be invited to the celebrations over COVID-19 fears.

President Putin has suggested that 200 billion rubles be set aside for struggling regional governments affected by the economic downturn from COVID-19.

Mandatory paid leave coupled with little government support has led to extreme economic distress and face-offs between employers and employees, according to a report from Meduza.

Alcohol consumption has skyrocketed during COVID-19, raising fears of health consequences as well as other societal effects such as domestic violence. In the last week of March, alcohol sales shot up 65 percent compared to the previous month, and domestic violence cases connected to drunkenness also rose, the New York Times reported.

RIA Novosti, a Russian state-owned news agency, reported earlier this month [in Russian] that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson required a ventilator during his hospitalization due to the coronavirus. Downing Street reacted furiously, calling the report “disinformation,” and no other outlets reported that the Prime Minister required a ventilator. It has now been reported that RIA’s office in Moscow fabricated the report. Meduza wrote, “Sources at “Rossiya Segodnya” say the initiative to release a story about the UK prime minister needing a ventilator came from the agency’s management in Moscow, and RIA Novosti’s London bureau wasn’t even informed about the report. “The story was signed as if it were written in London, but it wasn’t. The London bureau had nothing to do with it and only found out after the fact.”

PHOTO: Long queues at metro stations across Moscow as police mandated that electronic travel passes be inspected at all stations. April 15. ( Instagram @salarevolife)