Putin: Missing during the Pandemic
Putin has spent the past 20 years in office projecting a display of strength: a strong Russia which annexed Crimea in 2014, a powerful economy, and his self-image of herculean courage. Photoshoots of the Russian leader shirtless on horseback, winning ice-hockey matches (201-nil and Putin scored every goal) and fishing (shirtless again), are on par with neighboring dictator Kim Jong-Un of North Korea. Where is the great Vladimir Putin now?
He is hiding in his country house Novo-Ogaryovo outside of Moscow.
While this sets a much better example to his electorate than charging unmasked into factories à la Trump, the move has dented his popularity at home, and the recent talk of constitutional “reforms” to effectively make him ‘President for Life‘ has thankfully died down.
When it comes to pandemic mismanagement, Russia holds the silver cup. They now have the second fastest-spreading outbreak of COVID-19 in the world, with 308,705 cases and 2,972 deaths. Putin also reacted slowly and with dangerous complacency in the early days of the pandemic. Like Trump, Putin chose to distance himself from responsibility (and blame) by devolving power to the regional governors, left to set their own individual lockdowns.
The novel coronavirus has spread to Putin’s inner circle, with his right-hand man, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, in hospital. As Putin self-isolates far from the capital, wealthy oligarchs have stepped up to the plate and taken matters into their own hands. The people are not amused.