Dispatch from Moscow: Life under the yoke of mighty Khan Sobyanin & his Virus Horde

A Muscovite chronicles Rule by COVID Decree in Russia

By Moscow Exile. The author was born in northwest England in 1949. Worked as coal miner in the Lancashire coalfield, until the closure by the government of British deep coal mines in the mid-1980s. In 1985, began to live and work in Germany. 1987-1990: studied German and Russian full time at universities in the UK/Germany/the USSR. Graduated from a UK university in 1991 with a degree in Modern Languages. 1992-1993: studied as an undergraduate at another UK university to obtain a state pedagogical diploma. In 1993 returned to Russia. In 1997 married a Russian citizen, a Muscovite. Father of three children who have dual UK/Russian citizenship. Have a full residence permit for a foreign citizen in Russia. Have lived in Moscow for 26 years and as a married man for 24 years. Now an “individual entrepreneur”, teaching in Moscow English as a Foreign Language.

Restrictions in Moscow from November 8, 2021: new coronavirus measures, QR codes and bans, what to expect November 7, 2021:

Muscovites over the age of 60 will not be able to use public transport free of charge. Their social cards will be blocked. The same applies to those people who have chronic illnesses. However, if pensioners are vaccinated, this restriction does not apply to them…

My acquaintance with the Russian state health service began shortly after I had begun my now 26-year-long self-imposed exile in Moscow, Russia. In February 1995, whilst living just outside Moscow city limits in what was then known as Kaliningrad, now Korolyov, the former Soviet “Space City”, I awoke one morning, feeling extremely ill. My throat was infected, I could hardly swallow and barely speak; I was staggering around, my head spinning and aching; my whole body trembling and my temperature was sky high and I was sweating. I was most certainly suffering from some fever. My landlady called an ambulance and I was rushed off to the small local hospital.

I was diagnosed as suffering from diphtheria. I had only been in Russia for 2 weeks. I was in a really bad way. I was put into isolation, a room with a single bed and with observation windows — a “box” in Russian parlance — and immediately put on a drip: what of, I know not. I was given deep intramuscular injections into my buttocks four times a day for several days. I became delirious and thought I was going to die, but slowly and surely, I began to recover. The injections stopped, but I was still on a drip. At last, I found strength enough to talk. One day, a nurse asked me when my wife was going to visit me. I told her I was not married. She then asked when my friends would visit me. I told her I had no friends in Russia, that I had only arrived there 2 weeks previously. She then replied very matter-of-factly: “You are going to be hungry!”

I was never hungry in that hospital. True, the meals were meagre, but I had no appetite. I was mostly given soup, black bread, buckwheat and chicken. Basic Russian fare since ancient times. And tea. In the end, I discharged myself. I clearly recall the date: March 17 — St. Patrick’s Day. They wanted me to stay in hospital for another week, but I had to earn some money. One of the doctors had started to have chats with me not long before I discharged myself. He had a daughter who lived in London. He had visited her there a few times, and we talked about the UK. When I was getting ready to leave, I said goodbye to all I could who had treated me, including the doctor whose daughter had emigrated, and thanked them for helping me get better. They were good, professional people making the best of the scant resources available to them at that most terrible of times in immediate post-Soviet Russia. The doctor whose daughter lived in London was in the company of a much younger doctor, an intern I guess, when I said goodbye to him. The intern said to his superior: “What about payment?” The senior doctor then told him that I need not pay because I was a British citizen, which greatly surprised his younger colleague.

I do not know whether it is true now, but at that time, in emergency cases, British citizens were exempt from paying medical fees in Russian state hospitals; likewise, Russian citizens were exempt from medical fees in the UK. I guess this agreement was a leftover from the days when the UK and the British Empire were allies with the Soviet Union in their common struggle against Nazi Germany and its allies. In 1995, I had no medical insurance, neither private nor state. However, in 2004 I received a Russian residence permit and state medical insurance, since when I have never paid for treatment in Russian state hospitals, clinics or for state dental clinic treatment.

In March 1995, I walked out of that Kaliningrad hospital feeling very weak but at the same time, very grateful to its staff for saving my life, which I am sure they had indeed done.

The hospital was a Soviet building, built in the 1970s, I should imagine, and inside very basically equipped. There were none of the state-of-the-art beds and medical technology that one sees in Russian hospitals nowadays: the beds were old fashioned, metal frame, army style ones; there were few blankets. There were no cardiograms and other electronic medical devices and monitors beeping with their coloured lights blinking continuously, such as are commonplace now in hospitals everywhere, including that place which many in the West apparently believe is a “gas station with missiles”, where, according to a former US president, nothing is manufactured: it was a cold, grim and bleak place. I did notice however, that the hypodermic syringes and the needles in my drip feed were all Western made disposable ones taken from sterilized packaging. And the bed linen was spotless and the nurses wore modern medical clothing all in green and their heads were completely covered in caps. The doctors were dressed in a similar fashion.

Time went by. I extended my work contract and then, in 1997, I decided to drop anchor in Russia. My exile here was going to be permanent. In 1997, I met and married a Muscovite much younger than I am and 2 years later, the first of our three offspring was born, a boy. I had never been married before I met and married my wife, and I still have not experienced divorce: I am still married to the same woman. I still live in Russia.

As a teacher of English as a foreign language in Russia, over the past 26 years I have worked with native English speakers from far and wide, and all of them have, during the course of casual conversations, expressed their utter surprise not only over the fact that I have undergone treatment in Russian state hospitals and survived the experience, but also that I have chosen during times of sickness or as the result of injury to be admitted to a Russian state health service hospital. Moreover, they were especially astounded, in particular the women amongst my former teacher colleagues, when they learnt that all three of my children had been born in Russian state hospitals. Their usual response on learning this fact was “But why did you not send your wife to the UK to have a baby?” (Dumb question: too expensive!) Clearly, my former Western colleagues believed that there is, or should be, inscribed over the entrance of every Russian State Health Service hospital the dire admonition: “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter!”

Until the onset of this so-called pandemic in early 2020 and the constant hysteria and fearmongering spouted about it, mostly by bureaucrats and assorted experts that have been rolled out to support their arguments, I had nothing but praise and gratitude for the Russian health service. In 2001, I went down with pneumonia. Doctors here then found by X-ray a shadow on one lobe of one of my lungs. I informed them that it was probably a souvenir from my days spent deep-mining coal. They rushed me off to some special hospital and I ended up being presented to medical students there, assembled in a big lecture theatre, where I was asked to stand behind a fluoroscope. Cheaper than sending them down to some hospital in the Donbass coalfield, I suppose — not that they could do that nowadays. After I had been put on display, I asked my wife whether I should charge them a fee. I did not. And they cured my pneumonia.

In 2003, I had varicose veins removed. I was only in hospital for 4 days. They did a good job. No complaints from me whatsoever. And the hospital bore no resemblance to that grim place where I was treated in the “Glorious Yeltsin Years” in 1995. All state-of-the-art gear there by then, as far as I could judge, and a very new hospital it was, situated in the southern outskirts of the city. At that time, the Evil One had already been ruling tyrannically for 3 years. I was wide-awake when they removed those troublesome veins: I was under local anaesthetic, so I had a good look around in the operating theatre.

In 2008, I broke my left arm whilst cycling furiously near our dacha on a mountain bike along a well-potholed country backroad. I went straight over the handlebars. So an ambulance was called and I ended up in a little country hospital in a small and ancient rural town called Ruza, which is about 60 miles southwest of the Moscow Kremlin. Everything there was modern: the hospital had only been opened 2 years previously. The orthopaedic surgeon was quite concerned about the fracture. I had suffered fractures during my previous existence in Merry England, partly because of my former employment, which has left me with, amongst other things, some cracked neck and back vertebrae, but also because in the ‘70s, I played club rugby very competitively and at a high standard. I was good, though I say it myself. And during my playing career, I had taken a few hard knocks. The arm in question had been broken very many years before, and badly. The surgeon in Ruza was undecided whether to send me to an orthopaedic hospital in Moscow, but in the end, he decided to patch me up there in the sticks. Again, they did a good job. No complaints from me.

Since then, I had a run of good luck health wise, until 2019: I was getting no younger and began to suffer the common ailments that elderly men suffer from. I went through a very long process of medical check-ups in “polyclinics” — local state health centres, all fully equipped to “Western Standards” — and was advised to have some small, routine, remedial surgery. Then came 2020, the Year of the Plague and the implementation by state governments and their bureaucracies, which are advised by assorted “experts”, “Big Pharma”, and the “Great and the Good”, namely certain extremely wealthy individuals who seem intent on setting up globally “The New Normal”.

March 2020, the Moscow International Business Centre, otherwise known as “Moscow City”. The last time I met clients face to face before the scourge of God hit Russia and, ironically, at Pfizer. The week following that last live meeting, I was told that henceforth all my lessons were to be held online: the plague was upon us!

I began online tuition, and 19 months later, I am still teaching online. What dread calamity had hit Mother Russia! Or had it? During the night I did not hear and still do not hear mournful cries of “Bring out your dead!” I see no “plague pits” or mass graves. I see no bodies on the streets, I hear of no overflowing morgues. That is, I imagine, what happens when a city is stricken by a plague: that is what happened in London in 1665, the year of the last “Great Plague” there. True, there were shock-horror stories of overflowing morgues and unburied dead that came from Italy before the plague had reached Russia. Got a lot of coverage in the mass media did that story. Never hear much about it now: already long forgotten. And yes, there was covered in the mass media that load of nonsense in the UK, where, on the suggestion of the buffoon British Prime Minister, folk gathered in the streets at 8 o’clock on Thursday evenings to applaud the health workers of the British National Health Service, the “frontline heroes” in the fight against the dread disease. Britain could take it, see!

Here, in Darkest Mordor, the bureaucrats set to work in order to see if they could out-westernize the West as regards their hysterical issuing of emergency orders and directives, for you see, Russian bureaucrats are, in my opinion, mostly of a “liberal” bent. That means they think that all that is good and wholesome, healthy and intelligent and cultured comes from the West, before which Russia must always bow in obeisance.

The issuance of decrees is very much a Russian way of doing things, inherited, most likely, from the days of the Tatar Yoke, when what the Great Khan decreed was law and no ifs and buts about it. There are in Russia presidential decrees that have the force of law and provincial governors’ decrees and mayoral decrees. The chief honcho in Moscow is a certain Sergey Semyonovich Sobyanin, Mayor of Moscow.

Sobyanin is a bureaucrat extrordinaire. At the best of times, he issues mayoral decrees as if they were going out of fashion. His mayoral website is mos.ru. Take a peek! There you will find reams and reams of Sergey’s decrees.

By the way, Sobyanin’s ethnicity is Mansi, the Mansi being a Siberian Ugric people. This has caused quite a bit of mockery from Muscovites, because their mayor comes from way out in the trans-Ural sticks:

Above the slogan are (left) the Shield of Moscow and (right) a symbol that resembles that of the “United Russia” party, the majority party in the State Duma, but it features a mounted Tatar bowman and the logo “United Horde”, referring to the Tatar-Mongol horde that subjugated much of European Russian lands for more than 200 years.

Starting on 30 March 2020 the first of the Russian non-working weeks was introduced nationwide and Russians were urged by the Russian president to stay at home. This non-working week was then twice prolonged and lasted until 11 May. It was unnecessary that I be urged to stay at home: I had already been told at the beginning of March that all my work would be online and having been told that, on the following day I was informed that my rate of pay would be cut by almost 50%. (I am paid a fixed sum by the “academic hour”, which is 45 minutes long). On 29 March, Sobyanin had already issued a stay-at-home order and over the next few days many more federal jurisdictions announced similar restrictions. The same day, the border was shut. It was then that I decided to up sticks and bugger off to the tranquility of the countryside, to our family retreat, our dacha, situated some 60 miles southwest of the Kremlin.

What was the point of sitting it out in our Moscow flat, I thought, when I can conduct lessons online from our country cottage. Furthermore, I had work to do during the summer months growing and planting and the weather would soon warm up. I decided to head off for the country after having celebrated my birthday with my family in Moscow.

On 11 April, my birthday, Sobyanin, signed a decree introducing a digital pass system to enforce a coronavirus lockdown, in which residents would require such a permit to travel around the city and Moscow Province, using personal and public transport, with different types of passes for travelling to work, visiting hospitals and clinics, and private trips. Such permits would become mandatory on 15 April. On hearing that news, off I went: first by metro to the Begovaya railway station, and thence by a local Mozaisk bound commuter train out of the Belorusskiy Terminus to the country station near our dacha.

When I got to our local metro station, I found that my social card had been blocked for use on the Moscow Rapid Transit System, formerly known as the V.I. Lenin Moscow Metropolitan Railway. However, I was told by a security guard at the metro station that I could buy a metro ticket, albeit my social card was blocked. Having bought a ticket, on showing my social card at the railway station, however, I received a train ticket to my dacha station free of charge. How strange!

As regards my social card, I was not given it 13 years ago because I am a pensioner or an invalid: I received a social card because I am classed as a multi-child parent, in that I am the father of three or more children. My youngest child was born 13 years ago when I was 60 years old. On V.V. Putin’s urging, I felt I had to do my bit to help stem the decline – the so-called demographic “Death Spiral” no less -- in the Russian population. However, although I am well past pensionable age, I have never applied for or received a Russian state pension, simply because I am not a Russian citizen.

Notwithstanding this fact, in its munificence, the Russian state bureaucracy still allows me to possess a social card because of my parental status. Furthermore, I have Russian state health insurance – such insurance is, in any case, mandatory if one wishes to work in Russia; I am registered with the Russian National Health Service and have, therefore, a Russian NHS number and receive “free” treatment provided by that service. I also have a tax code, an INN; I pay Russian taxes: I still work for a living. Nevertheless, because I am over 65 years of age, in his command tent (“The Red House”, Moscow city hall, situated on Tverskaya Street), the Great Khan Sobyanin and his expert advisors and associated naysayers deem me, an “anti-vaxxer”, to be both a public health danger and also a person at high risk of infection by the dread virus.

According to the powers that be, blocking my social card is both necessary so as to isolate me from society and also to safeguard my health. Well thanks a lot, bureaucrats, but no thanks!

And so I settled down at my family country retreat , basking in the tranquility there, doing the garden chores, working online and simply waiting for my family to join me and to spend the summer months there, after which we would all return to Moscow in the fall, where I was sure, the epidemic would have passed by then. On 29 April, Sobyanin announced that the construction of temporary hospitals would be started and which would provide 10,000 hospital beds for coronavirus patients.

Then it was announced that the May 9 Victory Day celebrations were to be cancelled. However, a glimmer of light then seemed to appear at the end of this dark tunnel of bureaucratic frenzy in controlling the pestilence: On 11 May, President Putin announced the end of the national non-working period on the following day. I decided to return to Moscow: I had to return to Moscow in any case, for I had suddenly remembered that on 15 May each year, I have to re-register my place of abode at my local immigration office in Moscow Taganskiy District. I also wanted to celebrate my younger daughter’s twelfth birthday at home in Moscow.

Almost immediately after boarding the train for my return journey to Moscow, a masked ticket inspector approached me and barked: “How old are you? Put your mask on!” I fought hard not to ignore her or simply say to her in English, “Sorry, you fat slag, but I don’t understand a fucking word you’re saying”. This second option sometimes works, as such jumped-up jobsworths do not wish to get involved in a possible scandal with foreigners. I told her my age. She told me I was not allowed to travel. So then I got mad and answered back: “So what are you going to do: stop the train and make me get off?”

I had no ticket for her to check. My country station consists of only two platforms with shelters and has no ticket office: having boarded a train there, one has to buy a ticket off a ticket inspector on board the train. The impolite ticket inspector who had so rudely accosted me refused to sell me one: she just passed the buck and told me to buy a ticket when I alighted at Begovaya Station in Moscow.

At the exit barriers at Begovaya, they did not know what to do. They asked me if I had a Troika card – a multi-zone travel card for the metro and for surface railways within the city limits. I had one. And a blocked social card. They used my Troika to open the barrier and I then used it to travel by metro from Begovaya metro station to my local metro station.

Back in Taganskiy District, Central Administrative Region, Moscow, I went straight to the immigration office. It is just across the road from the block where I have lived since 2002. The office was closed and locked. On its door a notice, which read: “See Presidential Decree № . . . “ blah blah blah. I looked it up on my iPhone. Unbeknown to me, the Evil One had decreed that all those who had to re-register their residence in April/May would have to re-register on or after June 15. Apart from celebrating my daughter’s birthday at home, I had made a wasted journey, almost.

Having celebrated my younger daughter’s birthday, she, my wife and I all set of for the country. However, except for my daughter, in order to do that, we had then to get QR codes to travel out of the city. We had to do this online. We had to register at mos.ru (so that Big Brother could keep his watchful eyes on us), enter details of National Insurance etc; all our medical records were then linked to mos.ru; then we had to enter purpose of journey, address of destination, home address in Moscow. All pretty quick and simple, really. And you pushed ”print” on your keyboard and out it came or you could have it sent to your mos.ru app on your smartphone.

How simple and easy it is to give away personal information about oneself! My social card was still blocked, though; I still had to pay on the metro and buy a commuter train ticket. Oh, yes! And the QR code was only in effect for 24 hours, and if I remember rightly, it only came into effect a few hours after you had downloaded it. Clearly, the clear objective all this bureaucratic arseholery was to deter folk from travelling.

On 27 May, Sobyanin announced that some restrictions in Moscow would be eased on 1 June, with all non-food stores and some service sector businesses re-opening and residents would be able to go outside for walks and sport according to a schedule. My, wasn’t that so kind of him!

Then on 8 June, Sobyanin, said that the city would lift coronavirus restrictions. Self-isolation rules and travel permits would be waived on 9 June. Residents would be able to freely travel around the city and visit public places. Places like beauty salons, hairdressers and veterinarian clinics would re-open, with other places like restaurants re-opening over the course of June. Residents were still required to wear face masks and gloves and were advised to maintain their distance from others. I applied for a QR code online from the dacha so as to re-register on June 15 in Moscow my place of abode. I then had to apply for another code to return to the country. No problem, but all the time, mos.ru was pumping out messages urging over-60s to stay at home. The mayor then announced further easing of restrictions on 23 June with cafes and restaurants reopening as well as fitness centres and swimming pools. Restrictions on libraries and kindergartens would be lifted.

On 23 June, President Putin announced changes to the tax system and some state benefits, which resulted in my getting three payments off the tax office in order to compensate for any diminishment in my earnings caused by the restrictions. (I still have not had my reduced rate of hourly pay returned to its pre-epidemic level, though). They even organised for June 24 a postponed Victory Day Parade of sorts on Red Square. None of the participants wore masks.

Things started easing off in the provinces then. On 8 July, the governor of the Moscow Province signed a decree easing some restrictions in the region including allowing restaurants, cafes, bars and other catering establishments to reopen from 25 July as well as a number of other places to reopen from 15 July. 

On 9 July, Moscow authorities announced further easing of some restrictions with cinemas allowed to reopen and concerts allowed to be held from 1 August provided that they met certain requirements. Attractions would be able to reopen and restrictions on places like parks and cultural centres would be removed on 13 July. Universities and schools would also be able to return to normal and the use of face masks and gloves outdoors would no longer be required except in public transport, shops and crowded areas.

And the wonder vaccine Sputnik V had been developed!

I returned to Moscow on 31 October. The next day, my daughter started her school year. At noon, 2 September she came home from school. It had been closed! Outbreak of covid.

A few days later, my wife went down with covid. She was admitted to hospital. She was there for over a month and was in a very bad way: she had pneumonia. Medics descended on our flat, dressed as though they were about to make a moonwalk. We were all tested. None of us had the sickness. They came every week after that. At the end of September, when my wife was still in hospital, we were all diagnosed as having covid. My children had the plague, but were asymptomatic. I had the so-called killer disease as well, and not to be too technical, I felt like shit. An ambulance took me to a polyclinic. I was feeling worse by the minute. I started to shake and to sweat. They put me into a huge computer tomography (CT) scanning machine, a 3D human body scanner not unlike the one pictured above. They checked me all over – checked all my innards.

A doctor told me I had the dread disease and started the procedure for my hospitalization. I told him I had no intention of going to hospital. “Why not?” he asked. “You are very ill!” I gave my usual answer to this question, an answer that I like giving because it annoys doctors: “Because folk die in hospitals and I’d rather die in my own bed”.

The doctor was only young, but he didn’t argue with me. He just gave me a paper bag full of medicines and carefully wrote down for me the dosage required for each. And off I went. All buckshee! I learnt later that the national average cost of such CT scan in the USA is $3, 275.

It was raining heavily. I had to go home by bus and metro. I do not drive. Never have done: I have never owned a car, never learnt to drive one. I walked quite a long way to the nearest bus stop and from my alighting point to the metro station. I was feeling worse and worse and staggering like a drunken man. I thought, “If a cop sees me, I’ll get lifted, for sure”. I got home though, eventually. That first night was bad: I thought I was dying. But it was the crisis.

Next morning, I felt a little better, and after three days, I was up and about. I do suspect that what saved me, my age notwithstanding, is that I don’t smoke and drink. I used to drink like a demon though. I quit when my wife told me she was expecting our third child. I thought I’d better take more care of my health and try not to die before our latest offspring had reached adulthood. So I’ve been dry for 13 years and 6 months now.

My wife was discharged from hospital on 3 October, 2020. The dacha season had ended. We, my family and I, all remained in Moscow. Mass vaccinations began in December 2020, starting with primarily doctors, medical workers and teachers. Vaccinations began in Moscow on 5 December and were expanded to all other regions by 15 December. In January 2021, the vaccination programme was extended to the entire population.

My wife graduated from the prestigious Baumann Moscow Technical University. She is an engineer. Better said, she was an engineer when I met and married her. However, after she had borne our third child, she suddenly decided to become a teacher of English and enrolled at a pedagogical institute, where she graduated from several years ago. She teaches in a Moscow state secondary school – what Americans call a “high school” and what Russians call a “middle school”.

The travelling restrictions were withdrawn in the new year, but the obedient wore masks and gloves and observed social distancing. Shopworkers and cashiers, bus drivers, taxi drivers etc. wore masks, but it became noticeable that more and more spurned their use, or they wore them yet didn’t wear them, namely had them slung below their nose or even below their chin. But on public transport, especially on the railways, ticket inspectors and ticket office clerks demanded that you wore a mask, as did cashiers in supermarkets.

Spring 2021 came and I got ready to move to the dacha again and work online from there. I watched the Victory Day parade on TV at the dacha: it had not been cancelled because of the epidemic, and no masks worn on parade. At long last, I finally got the ball rolling as regards the surgical treatment that I had been advised to have in 2019 but had not been undertaken in 2020 because of the epidemic and lockdowns. By June 2021, I was preparing for admission to hospital.

Normally, I should have been in hospital for only 24 hours following the minor surgery that I was to undergo, but now I was told that following my admission to Moscow Hospital №24, I should have to be quarantined for 4 days before treatment began. And not more than 4 days before my date of admission, I should have to have a covid test, which should have to prove negative of course. Hospital №24 is spanking new, by the way.

My date of admission turned out to be Monday, 14 June, 2021. On 10 June I had my covid test and got its result the following day – negative. On Saturday morning 12 June at 8 o’clock, I received a telephone call from Hospital №24: because of a sudden spike in covid cases, my admission to the hospital had been cancelled. The hospital was henceforth only admitting covid cases. I was simply told to find another hospital where I could be treated. I have still not been able to do that, and the great pandemic hysteria has started once again.

Having learnt that I would not be admitted to hospital on 14 June, I immediately headed off to our dacha, where I stayed until the beginning of September. My wife and younger daughter later joined me there, where we enjoyed the summer and I purposefully ignored the hysteria about the epidemic. I was especially at pains to ignore the Great Khan Sobyanin’s regular warnings and admonitions that I persistently received via my mos.ru app. I could travel freely. My social card had long been unblocked and I even started to conduct two classes offline. That meant that twice a week I commuted to Moscow to teach face-to-face.

But the railway controllers, the ticket clerks at the stations and the ticket inspectors on board the commuter trains, still demanded that passengers wear masks and gloves whilst travelling. Many didn’t, only donning their face diapers on the approach of the ticket inspectors or when buying tickets, swiftly removing them when their ticket business was done. Few wore gloves either. However, every 15 minutes or so, on board trains and at railway stations, on the metro or in buses or on trams, passengers were informed by public announcement systems that they must wear these tokens of obedience at all times whilst travelling.

My face-to-face lessons turned out to be only short lived. The “second wave” soon put paid to them.

Since March 2021, these mos.ru messages have been arriving with increasing frequency because in March of this year, 6 months had past since I had been infected in September 2020 and, apparently, cured of the deadly disease. I am constantly urged to have the covid vaccination. I refuse to do so. In the meantime, however, my wife had to have the vaccination: the director of the school where she works told her: no vaccination – no job! The director in question, by the way, is not the headteacher: he is a manager, a bureaucrat.

When my wife was finally vaccinated, there had started an upsurge in covid cases, the “second wave” of the dread disease. Again, restrictions were being imposed as Sobyanin frantically issued his decrees. My wife went to Taganskiy Park for her injections. By decree, the park had been closed to the public, but was used as a district vaccination centre. She had a painful reaction to the first injection: her arm swelled around the point of injection as though she had been stung by a huge hornet. She felt so unwell that she visited a doctor, who said her reaction was “normal”. She suffered no bad effects following her second injection.

At the beginning of September 2021, the end of the dacha season, I went back to Moscow, returning to our country retreat at the weekends just to gather fallen apples and pears, to sweep up fallen leaves and close down the dacha for winter.

And the hysteria grew and Sobyanin continued to churn out his endless decrees, until, finally we reach the point where I started this tale: Muscovites over the age of 60 are no longer able to use public transport free of charge. Their social cards have been blocked. The same applies to those people who have chronic illnesses. However, if pensioners are vaccinated, this restriction does not apply to them.

From October 28 to November 7, 2021, a non-working day regime came into effect in Moscow. As part of the total lockdown, public catering establishments, bars, restaurants and everything where there is a massive crowd of people were closed. Since November 8, restrictions have been lifted, but the authorities have introduced QR codes that can be used to get into fitness clubs and public catering establishments.

An order for pensioners has been published on the official portal of the Mayor of Moscow. The document says that Moscow pensioners are required to observe a home regime of self-isolation. You can only leave the house in case of an emergency, for example, you need to go to a medical facility. In order to prevent elderly Muscovites from being tempted to get out of their homes, the authorities decided to block their social travel cards. By the way, the same applies to chronically ill people (18 and older).

On 7 November, the last day of he last lockdown, I decided to make my final visit to the dacha for this year as it had been announced that as from 8 November, social cards would again be blocked, just to make sure that I stay at home, see.

At 15:27 that day, I arrived at the Begovaya railway station Moscow. I had had no problem using my social card on the metro. At Begovaya, however, they said my card was blocked. I told them that according to mos.ru, social cards were going to be blocked on 8 November.

They told me that the cards had ben blocked after midday that day. I asked if I could buy a ticket. I could. So I was not allowed to travel free because I am over 60, unvaccinated and, therefore, a danger to the public at large, but if I bought a ticket, then I was no longer a danger to anyone, it seemed. Whilst waiting for the train, passengers were regularly addressed by the public announcement system thus: “Dear passengers without vaccination, please stay at home”.

Big brother is watching you!

I travelled to the dacha and returned to Moscow before midnight 7/8 November.

I have the legal right to travel free of charge on public transport because I am a multi-child parent. However, that right has now been withdrawn again by decree of the mayor of Moscow — unless I buy a ticket, of course.

It should be recalled that I do not travel free of charge with a social card because I am a pensioner; I am not a Russian pensioner: I receive no Russian state pension, though I have paid Russian taxes for 27 years — and still pay them. I travel free of charge because I am multi-child parent: it is my legal right to travel free of charge. And Sobyanin has overruled that right by means of his decrees.

The plot thickens! There now follow news reports from this past week:

9 November 2021: St. Petersburg introduces mandatory vaccination for pensioners:

Moscow. November 9. INTERFAX.EN — St. Petersburg has introduced mandatory vaccination for people over 60 years of age and those with chronic diseases. This decree was signed by the chief state sanitary doctor for the region Natalia Bashketova.

In particular, it affects people with chronic bronchopulmonary, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and obesity.

Since October 30, elderly unemployed residents of St. Petersburg have been advised to stay at home, except for going to the shops, emergency visits to the doctor and walking dogs. Employers were advised to transfer employees who are over 60 years old or have chronic diseases to home treatment and to propose that they get vaccinated.

10 November 2021: Golikova has announced an alarming increase in deaths from COVID-19:

The death rate from coronavirus in Russia is particularly alarming, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said during a meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin with members of the government. The meeting was broadcast on the Rossiya 24 TV channel.

We are particularly concerned about the continued increase in deaths. We see that, according to operational data, every day, unfortunately, just over 1,000 of our citizens pass away. But the analysis that we are conducting shows that these are, as a rule, citizens who are over 60 years old, citizens who suffer from chronic diseases, and unvaccinated, ” Golikova said.

Shit! I had better go and get vaccinated!!! The hell I will!

10 November 2021: Ginzburg has urged that mandatory vaccination against coronavirus be introduced:

Director of the N. F. Gamaleya National Research Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology Alexander Ginzburg has made a statement in an interview with “Rossiyskaya Gazeta” about the need to introduce mandatory vaccination against SARS-CoV-2.

When asked if the COVID-19 pandemic will ever end, Ginzsburg said that it would come to naught when three-quarters of the world’s population is vaccinated against coronavirus.

Hey, Ginzburg! Why don’t you wear your mask correctly? Wearing your mask in such a way is totally useless, notwithstanding the fact, which you are, no doubt well aware of, that wearing a piece of paper that covers your mouth and nose provides no protection whatsoever against viral infection.

That mask which is slung around your chin is merely a symbol, a token of obedience that the mob should wear. If a passenger wears a face diaper in such a way when a ticket inspector approaches him on a commuter train, he is told to wear his mask.

I noticed last Sunday when travelling to and fro between Moscow and my dacha, that very many passengers only put on their masks when they saw the inspectors approaching, and took them off after they had gone.

10 November 2021: In St. Petersburg, unvaccinated elderly people will be limited access to a number of domestic services

S.-PETERSBURG, November 10 – RIA Novosti. Non-working residents of St. Petersburg over 60 years old who have not been vaccinated against coronavirus and have not received a QR code will be restricted access to catering establishments and a number of public services, the press service of the city administration of Rospotrebnadzor reports.

Non-working persons 60 years and older, who have not been vaccinated and have not received a unique QR code, will be limited access to receiving domestic and catering services, as well as a number of other services”, the message says.

Working residents of St. Petersburg over 60 years old who have not been vaccinated against coronavirus will be suspended from work, according to the city administration of Rospotrebnadzor.

[…]

It is noted that the effect of the decree of the chief state sanitary doctor in St. Petersburg does not apply to residents who have contraindications to vaccination.

The list of (current) contraindications is shockingly narrow in scope.

Call me a cynic if you will, but does not all of this sound, dare I say, somewhat illegal?

And the ball here is certainly rolling now so as to criminalize anti-vaxxers:

10 November 2021: The Ministry of Health has explained Murashko’s words about criminal liability for anti-vaxxer doctors:

MOSCOW, November 10. /tass/. Medical workers who oppose vaccination against coronavirus infection and spread incorrect information endanger the lives of citizens. This was announced to TASS on Wednesday by Assistant Minister of Health Alexey Kuznetsov, explaining Mikhail Murashko’s speech at a meeting of the State Duma Committee on Health Protection.

Speaking during a meeting of the State Duma Committee on Health Protection about the incorrect behaviour of individual medical workers who oppose vaccination and disseminate incorrect information, the minister stressed that such behaviour threatens the lives and health of citizens. At the same time, to the deputies’ proposal on the need to amend the legislation, including the Criminal Code, the minister unequivocally replied that such changes are not required, since the relevant provisions and measures of responsibility are already provided for by current laws”, Kuznetsov explained.

[…]

Earlier, Alexander Ginzburg, director of the Gamaleya National Research Centre for Epidemiology and Microbiology of the Russian Ministry of Health, said in an interview with TASS that he was concerned that some medical workers were involved in the distribution of fake covid vaccination certificates. He also expressed hope that the anti-counterfeiting campaign will be successful.

Yes, counterfeiting is a crime, whether it be of vaccination certificates or not. But it is a non-sequitur to maintain that the criminal nature of counterfeiting vaccination certificates means that stating one’s opinion about it not being necessary to be vaccinated against Covid is also a crime.

How does Ginzburg explain the blocking of my social card because of my refusal to be vaccinated, which blocking prevents me, as an alleged danger to society, from travelling free of charge, yet at the same time I am able to use public transport if I buy a ticket?

How does buying a ticket suddenly stop my potential spreading of the dread disease or my infection by this malevolent virus?

And can he explain why this dread virus, which only causes mild-to-moderate symptoms (or, often, no symptoms whatsoever) in about 95% of the infected, and the overall infection fatality rate of which virus is approximately 0.1% to 0.5, yet those who refuse to be vaccinated should, in his opinion and others of his ilk, be systematically segregated, stripped of their jobs, denied medical treatment, demonized as “a danger to society,” censored, fined, and otherwise persecuted?

11 November 2021: Double talk!

Moscow. November 11. INTERFAX.RU — In St. Petersburg, coronavirus vaccination remains voluntary for people over 60 years of age and for citizens with chronic diseases, Deputy chairman of the City Health Committee Olga Granatovich said during a press tour.

Accordingly, today we are not talking about any responsibility. Vaccination remains voluntary and is left to one’s discretion and conscience (…) of each patient. Because protecting yourself and your relatives is the most important thing we can offer (…) This is the only way to protect yourself from coronavirus infection”, she said.

[…]

[On November 10] the press service of Governor Alexander Beglov explained that vaccination for residents of St. Petersburg over 60 years of age and with chronic diseases is still mandatory, but it must be provided by employers and unvaccinated employees can be suspended from work.

Even later, on November 10, the St. Petersburg Rospotrebnadzor explained that non-working pensioners without vaccinations will not be given QR codes, and then they will not be served in restaurants and cafes and household services firms.

As I said above: does not all of this sound, dare I say, somewhat illegal? And yes, it IS illegal! And they are shamelessly bullying the elderly by spreading panic in their midst. Note the appeal to one’s conscience:

Vaccination remains voluntary and is left to one’s discretion and conscience . . .”

Be it on your own conscience that you have done something mightily wrong, you wicked anti-social sinner! And again, Golikova hath spoken!

12 November 2021:

A coronavirus vaccination certificate is just as important as a passport — Russia needs to achieve collective immunity as soon as possible. This was stated to journalists by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, reports TASS.

The coronavirus vaccination certificate should become as important a document in the life of our citizens as a passport. And we are very pleased with the news from the regions about the records for daily vaccination. But let me remind you that we need to achieve collective immunity in a short time, so as not to delay the development of the pandemic in our country,” she said.

Get stuffed, Tanya! She’s an economist, by the way, a graduate of the prestigious Plekhanov Institute. An oldie but a goldie:

Q. Why did God create economists?

A. To make weather forecasters look good.

12 November 2021: Draconian legislation? Must do just as the wonderful West does?

Draft laws on mandatory QR codes submitted to the State Duma:

The Russian government has submitted to the State Duma bills on the introduction of mandatory QR codes in public places and on transport, according to the website of the Cabinet of Ministers.

According to the first bill, to visit public places, including cultural institutions, public catering and retail trade facilities, Russians will have to show either a QR code confirming that they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus or a document on having had the illness or a certificate of medical exemption from vaccination.

Until February 1, if a person does not have the necessary documentation to visit the said facilities, he/she will be able to present a negative PCR test. After February 1, only citizens with medical clearance will be able to do so”, the statement said.

The second bill regulates the use of QR-codes on railway and air transport. Thus, to make intercity and international travel, Russians will need a QR-code of vaccination, a certificate of medical exemption or confirmation of transferred [What does that mean? — ME] COVID-19.

Until a date to be set by a government regulation, in the absence of such documentation, a negative result of a PCR test will suffice” the government said.

The cabinet added that the said norms are proposed to be introduced for the period till June 1, 2022.

Ah well, that means I can’t go to McDonald’s or Starbucks no more! Come to think of it, I never do. Never been to Starbucks in my life. Am I missing out on something?

Fuck the vaccination!

And the last word (so far!) I leave to Aunty Tanya:

Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation and head of the Operational Department for Combating Coronavirus Tatyana Golikova has announced the introduction of QR codes throughout the country.

After having consulted with the governors and experts, we have decided to introduce QR codes in the country”, said the Deputy Prime Minister, adding that until February 1, a transition period has been set, during which time it will be possible to visit public catering, shops and make trips using a negative PCR test.

According to Golikova, Russians are not complying with restrictions and preventive measures, and are in no hurry to get vaccinated.