Fact number one:
Through November Russia has recorded 1.881 million deaths whereas the 5-year January-November average is 1.697 million. In other words, by December Russia had seen 184 thousand excess deaths this year.
The number is being additionally sensationalized by calculating excess deaths not by comparison to the 5-year average as is the common statistical practice, but by comparison solely to 2019 which saw uncharacteristically few deaths. This calculation produces an “excess deaths” number of 230 thousand.
The Russian authorities attribute 80 percent of this figure to COVID.* They are probably right. 133 thousand of the 184 excess deaths occurred in October and November. There is no reason for lockdown deaths to peak in these two months, but they do coincide with highest daily COVID test-positive totals until then.
Fact number two:
Despite losing 106 thousand people to COVID in two months Russia has not gone back to lockdowns nor has it any intention to. There is no national lockdown nor anything of the sort. In places, there are some restrictions on the local level such as curfews for bars and compulsory masks on public transport but compliance and enforcement are scant, and social pressure to adhere is non-existent.
In other words, in the spring, when it did not even yet have any excess mortality at all, Russia enforced a Draconian, Maoist lockdown. A move so insanely radical that as part of it even the May 9th celebrations around the 75th anniversary of the victory in WWII (the cornerstone of Russia’s civil religion) were canceled. Yet now, when it is in fact losing 10,000 elderly people to COVID each week, life goes on instead much as normal, and the main concern is with recapturing the economic output lost in the spring lockdown.
What does it mean?
The Kremlin can continue to ridicule “COVID deniers” and profess its continued adherence to COVID cult orthodoxies, but actions speak louder than words.
Fact is that wiser for its spring experience Russia has rejected lockdowns in a most dramatic fashion. Even as COVID deaths are hitting sky-high numbers it no longer wants to go back.
The national authorities can say whatever they want, but their actions are of someone who believes that lockdowns either:
A.) Do nothing to help COVID victims, but do pile on completely unnecessary non-COVID deaths on top, or
B.) Perhaps help with the COVID situation marginally, but at such a devastating price that it is not worth it.
Had they listened they could have avoided causing additional lockdown deaths and becoming mini-Stalins guilty of callously killing their own people by decree.
They would have avoided inflicting the incredible humiliation and indignity of universal house arrest and compulsory muzzling on their people.
And they might have avoided causing 2020 to become such a lost year for Russia economically that it will now take 2-3 years just to get back to where it was originally.
We must appreciate that Russia is not Holland, or even Slovakia. Russia is a power under financial siege that the Empire would love to cut down to size, humiliate and subjugate. The only thing standing in the way of that is its considerable military power, which in turn rests on its economic power. A 5-percent hit to its GDP is a much serious thing to Russia than it would be to Britain or Italy. Firstly because for under-sanctions Russia it is more difficult to recover from, and even more importantly because for Russia it represents a direct threat to its independence, sovereignty and national dignity.
By enacting the spring lockdowns Putin sadly blundered into delivering a substantial blow to Russia for no benefit at all, and by not enacting a fall lockdown he admitted as much.
Sorry but there is no reality in which NOT enacting a lockdown when you’re losing 50,000 extra people a month is correct AND it was also correct to enact one such costly lockdown when the scale of death was far, far lower. It’s either lockdown in both cases, or neither.
On the other hand, at least eventually Moscow figured stuff out and a fair bit before the vast majority of the West. So in relative terms, it has gained on its Western besiegers, who took hits at around 10 percent, slightly. Albeit the leap ahead could have been bigger still had someone like Lukashenko, with a dose of potato-farming common sense and utterly unafraid to stand alone against all, been behind the wheel.
* 80% of 184 thousand would be 147 thousand. The lockdown fanatic UK with less than half of the population claims 83 thousand deaths through today.