06/24/2020, 09.59
RUSSIA
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Victory parades, pandemics and vaccines

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The ceremonies have been postponed from 9 May to today due to the coronavirus epidemic. But in many cities there are no demonstrations, or they are held early in the morning without a public. The virus spreads to Chechnya and the Caucasus, Siberia and Asian Russia: data collection is difficult. Vaccine tests on 20 volunteers have started at Sechenov University in the capital.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Today, June 24, the great Victory parade is finally being held in Russia, in memory of the 75 years since the end of the "Great Patriotic War", postponed from the "canonical" date of May 9 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The June date also marks the "first parade", when the victors of Berlin paraded on the Red Square in Moscow on their return home.

In the meantime, however, the coronavirus epidemic is far from over, even if there is a slight drop in the overall numbers (about 7500 cases in the last 24 hours, with just over 100 deaths). The virus is spreading from Moscow and large cities, where the curve appears to be clearly decreasing, to various regions and peripheries of the country, often faced with serious failings in local health services and protective equipment, and where in some cases the population refuses to abide by strict self-isolation rules.

In many regions it is also difficult to collect data on the infected, the deceased and the cured, especially in Caucasian areas of Russia such as Chechnya, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia and the Krasnoyarsk region, but also in various parts of Siberia and Asian Russia in general.

In Kyzyl, capital of the republic of Tuva in central-southern Siberia, with 112 thousand inhabitants, by public order of the mayor, all public transport has been stopped indefinitely since yesterday, against an increasing number of positive cases at the rate of 140- 150 per day, and the difficulty of city hospitals in coping with the epidemic. The inhabitants of the city have not yet adapted to the quarantine measures, also considering the exceptional heat of these days in Siberia.

In Moscow, trials for the production of an anti-Covid vaccine are proceeding at a fast pace. The top 20 volunteers enrolled for tests at Sechenov University complain of violent headaches and severe increases in body temperature. The institute issued a reassuring statement, stating that these are expected and temporary reactions, which disappear within 24 hours. Elena Smolarchuk, director of the university's clinical center, said that "the reaction to vaccine tests falls within the standards, but only at the end of the immunological analyzes will we understand the effectiveness". The volunteers are guests of the facility in comfortable rooms with one or two beds, under the specialists’ observation, where they will stay for at least a month; the Russians are confident that they will get the vaccine by September.

As a result of the pandemic, the parades on June 24 are taking place in a rather surreal atmosphere. In some cities they have been canceled, in others they are held early in the morning, without any public. Moscow, on the other hand, expresses all the desire to exalt the great Victory, as augured by President Vladimir Putin and the Patriarch of Moscow Kirill (Gundjaev) in the joint visit or "inauguration" of the Cathedral of Victory at the "Patriot" park in Moscow, solemnly consecrated on June 14, and the subsequent visit to the attached museum or memorial complex entitled "The road of memory".

Putin defined the memory of the Great Patriotic War as "absolutely sacred". The patriarch congratulated the soldiers present for "the memorable date of June 22", the day of the Nazi invasion with the gigantic "Operation Barbarossa" of 1941, "a tragic and solemn day for all of us". These words, however, aroused serious doubts in public opinion, the wish being rather sinister, citing the day of the invasion, when Stalin himself hid in fear, before reacting a few days later. However, June 22 was included in the Russian civil calendar as the "Day of remembrance and affliction", underlining a very Russian characteristic in associating the great victories with the great sufferings.

The statistics that have emerged from recent surveys confirm that almost 90% of Russians define themselves as "patriotic", but these generic statements hide growing criticism of the shortcomings of the health system, education and various social services, that the state is increasingly struggling to guarantee. The patriotic hangover will end on 1 July with the (partially virtual) referendum on changes to the Constitution, where a predicted favorable outcome is expected, but also a low turnout.

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