The pandemic in Russia and the bankruptcy of national-chauvinist politics

The pandemic continues to wreak havoc in Russia. Since the invasion of Ukraine, efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 have been abandoned. This test was submitted to World Socialist Website by the Bolshevik Leninist Young Guard, a Trotskyist youth organization in Russia.

On Tuesday, July 19, the Rospotrebnadzor news service reported the detection of the new Omicron BA.2.75 subvariant in five people in Russia. The news service wrote: “The material was sampled in July. The material was collected in the city of Moscow. The disease had a mild form in all patients. There are no hospitalized patients. »

Previously, this highly mutated Omicron subvariant has been found in India, Australia, Germany, Britain, the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands. With the Omicron BA.5 subvariant currently dominant in Russia and around the world, it is difficult to say whether this new BA.2.75 subvariant can be considered particularly dangerous, capable of causing a new wave of coronavirus in the world. . What is certain, however, is that the Russian healthcare system is unlikely to be able to continue withstanding the pandemic blow after blow.

According to official figures, which are significant undercounts, the pandemic has already killed around 382,000 people in Russia. Estimates of excess deaths put Russia’s actual death toll above 1.2 million, among the highest per capita excess death rates in the world.

Over the past few weeks, there has been a gradual increase in the number of official cases, typical of all initial periods of coronavirus waves, indicating a real threat of a new pandemic wave in the weeks and months to come. Since hitting a low on July 1, the seven-day average of new daily cases has risen 79%, from 2,941 to 5,264. Russia’s genomic sequencing data is only available through July 4, but at this point the Omicron BA.5 subvariant already accounted for 33% of all cases and likely became dominant the following week and is fueling the current increase in cases.

Doctors wearing special suits to protect against the coronavirus treat coronavirus patients in an intensive care unit at a hospital in Volgograd, Russia, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexandr Kulikov)

Officially, around 18.5 million people have been infected with COVID-19 in Russia, also known to be a vast undercount. As is the case globally, the health system has been under constant pressure for two and a half years. Amid this deepening crisis, Putin’s regime is gradually changing its own propaganda. She increasingly ignores the issue of the pandemic, highlighting the “special military operation” in Ukraine, where Russia is waging not only a war against Ukraine, but also a proxy war against the US-NATO powers. .

According to the draft Russian federal budget for 2022-2024, Russia does not intend to increase health spending by 2024, while adopting a 7.1% and 8.5% increase in spending for “national security” and “national defense”, respectively.

It is possible that BA.5 or BA.2.75 will trigger a new pandemic wave. For the working class, the difficult times of dealing with a pandemic are approaching again. The class struggle could deepen alongside the new wave, starting with health care workers and then spreading to other sectors of the country’s economy.

As the COVID-19 pandemic poses ongoing dangers to millions of workers across Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government, as well as public scientists such as immunologist Vladislav Zhemchugov, have downplayed the severity of the threat. for the population.

Zhemchugov has repeatedly made contradictory and telling statements about the pandemic. It is around such personalities that the propaganda that the coronavirus is now “safe” is built. In June this year, commenting on the origins of the coronavirus, Zhemchugov provocatively stated that it is impossible to completely deny that he originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

In April, according to Rambler, Zhemchugov claimed that Omicron would help “renew herd immunity.” Additionally, Zhemchugov said the Omicron variant would seek a new host instead of humans. As with official scientists internationally, including Drs. Ashish Jha and Anthony Fauci in the United States, Zhemchugov said that Omicron could supposedly cause the last wave of the pandemic. More recently, he decided to “correct” himself and expresses the position that the new wave will be the very “tail” of the pandemic.

All of these statements need to be critically examined. What are the guarantees that the new BA.5 and BA.2.75 strains will not be so deadly? What are the guarantees that the coronavirus will be definitively eliminated? Why would coronavirus outbreaks suddenly stop? And why should we ignore the threat to life posed by COVID-19? In the current social and economic system, there are no guarantees.

These same conceptions have been put forward by the Putin government. In January 2021, as the Omicron BA.1 subvariant surged across Russia and the world, Putin said, “The pandemic is indeed gradually receding. The number of sick people is decreasing; the number of people who, thank God, have improved regularly exceeds the number of those who have recently fallen ill.

Putin’s rhetoric at that time was based on imaginary hopes that the virus would gradually disappear. But in June 2021, reality forces him to admit that “the pandemic is not over”. Yet, admissions alone are not enough. What is needed is a clear policy of action against the pandemic, based on the scientific method, not on the interests of the ruling elites in Russia or internationally.

Recently, since around March this year, more and more regions and cities have dropped all restrictions in the fight against the pandemic. What is quite telling is that all this started precisely after the start of the “special military operation” in Ukraine. Putin’s propaganda is now working in a different direction, seeking to blame all of Russia’s problems on an external enemy. It attempts to “whitewash” itself and its elite while “disparaging” the western ruling capitalist elite.

Putin’s message to Russian workers is that if they are exploited by their own people, “our way, the Russian way, the national way,” that is fine. Exploitation and disease are only bad if they are the work of “foreign agents” and “russophobes”.

It is clear that the policy of Western imperialism resorts to Russophobia as part of its anti-Russian campaign. However, every class-conscious worker should understand that it is not Putin who is defending Russia, but the international working class. It is their capacity for revolutionary action that can save the world in general, and Russia in particular, from the destruction of the productive forces and the cultural heritage resulting from the struggle for profits and spheres of influence between the capitalist powers. .

Putin’s regime has no way out of the current crisis in the country. It is only capable of adventurous actions, such as the invasion of Ukraine, which ultimately plays into Western imperialism’s hands and does nothing to stop its desire for future expansion against Russia and China. Its “social” policy is only an aid policy, which will not work for long with the growing inflation of food prices which is hitting the majority of the population hard.

The world bourgeoisie in general, and the Russian bourgeoisie in particular, are incapable of resolving any of the impending crises characteristic of the present era of capitalism. This applies both to continuing economic crises and pandemics, to social inequalities, to the impending ecological apocalypse by the end of this century, to the threat of a new global nuclear war and much more.

Each of these problems is international in character. The bourgeoisie, in its essence, is narrowly nationalist. One of the main contradictions pushing humanity towards a new world war is the contradiction between globalized social production and the division of the world economic system into hostile nation states. The hostility of these states to each other stems from their capitalist character. In every country, the capitalists seek to extract as much profit as possible, in defiance of global social needs.

Only the working class is capable of solving the problems facing humanity. However, for the working class to realize its potential, it must realize that without a revolutionary organization, standing on a strictly proletarian and socialist position, this is impossible.

It is for this reason that anyone sympathetic to the cause of the working class, if he wishes to participate fully in the struggle for socialism, should contact the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) and help it to build or develop a section in the country in which the aspiring fighter for the cause of socialism resides.

On these people began work on the construction of a section of the ICFI in Russia. It is on these people that the Turkish section was recently formed.

Be part of the struggle against capitalism, imperialism and war with the ICFI!

Only by uniting the working class can its historic mission be accomplished!

Anne G. Cash