Volunteer writer Leah Langley brings us an interesting account of what has been been going on in Russia over the past few months.
Much of the world’s media outlets have been focusing their attention on President Trump and his (failed) bid to be re-elected as the US President for another term. This change in attention has seen the limelight shift from Russia, over the pond, to America.
Back in April, Vladimir Putin admitted that his country, like many others, was facing a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment for their medical staff, despite there being an increase in the production and importation. Mr Putin starkly warned that Russia had not yet reached the peak of the Coronavirus and that the country’s lockdown was to be extended until May 11th. Russia had faced more than 93,000 COVID cases and had recorded 867 deaths. 100,000 protective suits and 8.5 million masks were being produced each day, but medics were still complaining about having to work without adequate equipment.
Mr Putin’s final appearance, before working from his country residence outside Moscow, was on May 9th when he attended a Victory Day Ceremony. The traditional parade was postponed until 24th June which was when he re-emerged from his country residence to be seen once more. He urged Russians to show up and vote for the constitutional reform in a referendum on July 1st. The referendum passed which effectively allows Mr Putin to stand for another two terms as President when his current six-year term ends in 2024. This victory will mean that Mr Putin can remain in power up to 2036 if he so chooses. The new constitution also included articles that promoted a patriotic education that reemphasised the ban on same-sex marriage. There was much chaos around the referendum as voters were only able to select one of two boxes in which they could either accept or reject all the amendments. It also became known that the vote was not actually required by law as the reforms were already approved by the Russian parliament back in March. This caused tensions to rise across the country as Russians felt that the vote was being used to create a divide across the nation.
In July, Governor Sergei Furgal was arrested for murder which sparked protests in the far eastern province as supporters believed that the charges brought against him were politically motivated. The protests were some of the biggest in Russia’s history. President Putin formerly removed Sergei Furgal from his post on Monday 20th July and named Mikhail Degtyaryov the acting head of the region.
At the beginning of October Russian opposition activist, Alexei Navalny, made the headlines as he claimed that President Putin was responsible for his poisoning by a Novichok nerve agent. The Kremlin have denied all involvement and Mr Putin’s spokesman claimed that there was no evidence that Mr Navalny had been poisoned with a nerve agent. The spokesman for the Kremlin called the accusation “insulting” and “utterly unfounded.”
At the end of October Mr Putin was back in the news as he claimed that almost 5,000 citizens had been killed in the fights between Azerbaijan and Armenian forces. The fights have been taking place over the Nagorno-Karabakh region and have been covered worldwide. The headlines came from the sheer number of deaths that Mr Putin was claiming as the death toll was considerably higher than that given by the two sides. Mr Putin stated that he would not be taking sides in the conflict, but that he does communicate with both sides several times a day. Mr Putin has also called on the United States to help Russia in seeking peace within the region.
So, whilst the eyes of the world have been on the United States it seems that Russia has been dealing with its own troubles, but maybe not to the extent that people may have anticipated.
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Article edited by Connor Wade – Politics Editor