This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Tens of communists in Russia broke Moscow’s coronavirus lockdown to march across Red Square to mark the sesquicentennial anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik revolution.
Members of the Communist Party of Russia laid flowers at the front of Lenin’s Mausoleum in the square on April 22, led by party leader Gennady Zyuganov.
Those gathered were split into small groups and kept at a distance from each other when approaching the granite mausoleum, though their presence broke lockdown rules prohibiting Muscovites from leaving their homes except to buy essentials such as food and medicines, to receive medical treatment, or to take out trash or walk family pets.
A day earlier, Zyuganov called on communists in all of Russia’s regions, as well as in Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Central Asia, and the South Caucasus, to lay flowers at remaining statues of Lenin.
Communists in Russia had planned to hold mass events and celebrations of Lenin’s 150th anniversary with the participation of Communists from foreign nations, but all of the events were postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic.
Meanwhile, a well-known Russian economist Oleg Vyugin says the Russian government needs to provide more support to ordinary citizens and small businesses to overcome hardships caused by coronavirus pandemic.
Vyugin told RFE/RL on April 21 that instead of allocating major support sums to large state-controlled companies and enterprises, the government should focus more on supporting ordinary people and owners of small- and medium-sized businesses.
Vyugin, a former deputy finance minister, chairman of the Observation Council of the Moscow Stock Exchange, and a professor at the National Research University of Russia’s High School of Economics, was one of the authors of the Coronacrisis-2020 report published by the Liberal Mission foundation on April 13 that criticized the government’s coronavirus relief program.
According to Vyugin, the government’s general financial support package is 500 billion rubles ($6.5 billion), of which only 80 billion rubles ($1 billion) is destined for small businesses.
“This attitude might lead to a situation when the revival of small and medium businesses will proceed very slowly and with huge difficulties. [It would be better to choose] what I call a European way, which is a concept to help ordinary people in difficult times,” Vyugin said, noting the German government’s approach.
“Germany started giving financial support to small businesses right away. And later, the federal tax service will look at the situation. If it turns out that your business remained profitable [while under pandemic restrictions], you will have to return the money to the government. If you took the money but failed to preserve your business and left your employees jobless, then you will have to return money to the government too,” he said.
According to Vyugin, coronavirus restrictions will most likely start being lifted by late May, or early June, by which point officials will have to have figured out ways to “coexist with the virus to avoid an economic catastrophe.”
According to Vyugin, if the restrictions on individuals and businesses remain in place for months, they may lead to a situation where banks in Russia will also need government support as the ability of clients to repay loans, credits, and mortgages weakens.