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Current Affairs – 21 April 2020

Russia: Headlines

Hundreds Rally Against Coronavirus Lockdown in Southern Russia

Around 500 demonstrators have gathered in the southern Russian city of Vladikavkaz to protest against job losses and lack of information about the coronavirus outbreak, Russia’s MBKh News website reported Monday.

National Guard troops have been deployed at the scene and at least three people, including the organizers, have been detained, the outlet added.

Full coverage: The Moscow Times

Moscow Woman Dies on Street Bench After Negative Coronavirus Test

Authorities in Moscow are reportedly investigating the death of a woman on a bench outside her home on the day she was discharged after testing negative for the coronavirus.

Surveillance footage shared by Russia’s REN TV broadcaster showed the woman it identified as Yelena Chuklova, 48, moving around in pain on the bench as social workers and neighbours tried and failed to gain entrance to her apartment block. The outlet reported that Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened an inquiry into the reports of the woman’s death.

“The woman felt worse near the entrance, the social workers immediately called an ambulance,” the Moscow Mayor’s Office’s health department said in a statement Monday. “The ambulance arrived within 11 minutes and, unfortunately, pronounced her dead.”

Full coverage: The Moscow Times

Russia to Quarantine Troops Rehearsing for Postponed WWII Parade on Coronavirus Concerns

The Russian military will quarantine everyone involved in rehearsals for Russia’s postponed Victory Day Parade, the Defense Ministry said Monday following reports that some participants have tested positive for the coronavirus.

President Vladimir Putin postponed the landmark parade to mark the 75th anniversary of Soviet victory in World War II until later in 2020 as Russia struggles to contain the rapid spread of the coronavirus. Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed Friday that dozens of cadets, some of whom were reportedly involved in parade rehearsals, tested positive for Covid-19 in Moscow.

Full coverage: The Moscow Times

Coronavirus Hits Russian Psychiatric Hospital

Dozens of patients and staff have been infected with the coronavirus at a psychiatric hospital in Russia’s north-western Arkhangelsk region, leading to a sharp rise in local cases, Interfax reported Sunday, citing regional authorities.

The Arkhangelsk state clinical psychiatric hospital was placed under quarantine Saturday when one of its employees was found to be infected. She is believed to be a nurse who had recently returned from Moscow, Russia’s Meduza news website quoted an unnamed employee as saying.

At least 70 patients and employees have since tested positive for Covid-19, Interfax cited the regional crisis center as saying Sunday.

Full coverage: The Moscow Times

1 in 5 Russians Advocate ‘Eliminating’ LGBT Community – Poll

Almost one in five Russians believe that LGBT people should be “eliminated,” according to the results of a new independent Levada Center poll.

The figures showed 18% of respondents giving the response, marking a slight softening in attitudes toward members of the LGBT community since 2015, when 21% advocated their “elimination.” Similarly, 32% said this year that gays and lesbians should be “isolated from society,” down from 37% five years ago.

“The stigmatization of socially vulnerable people has decreased over the past 30 years, and norms that require helping and not isolating from them have expanded,” Levada sociologist Karina Pipiya told the Kommersant newspaper Sunday.

Full coverage: The Moscow Times

Moscow Court Cuts Jail Term for Activist Kotov

The Moscow City Court has ruled to reduce activist Konstantin Kotov’s four-year jail sentence for “multiple beaches” of Russia’s protest law to 18 months, while also ruling that the guilty verdict was lawful, the RBC news website reported Monday, citing the court’s press-service.

The hearing was reportedly conducted without visitors and journalists because of coronavirus distancing rules.

The 35-year-old computer programmer was arrested last year after repeated participation in summer protests over Moscow’s parliamentary election.

Full coverage: The Moscow Times

Coronavirus Hits Russian Markets | April 20

The latest on how the ruble and Russian stock markets are reacting to the coronavirus.

The latest on the markets, as of 18.45 Moscow-time, April 20:

— A quiet day for Russian assets on the financial markets, as attention was fixed on the oil market, as U.S. futures contracts for WTI dropped 43% from Friday’s closing price.

— The lurch lower was a technicality as companies moved to ditch their contracts for oil deliveries which would have arrived at the beginning of May, Renaissance Capital’s head of oil and gas, Alexander Burgansky, explained. The price, he said, should shoot back up over the next few days.

— Benchmark Brent crude oil dropped by 5% in comparison, and the ruble slipped 0.8% against the U.S. dollar to 74.5.

— Russia’s RTS Index shed 1% and the MOEX Index lost 0.3%. Conglomerate Sistema and tech giant Yandex were the biggest climbers, notching gains of more than 4%.

Source: The Moscow Times

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