The perils of Putin tea-leaf reading
Everyone seems to know what's going on in Putin's head. We have some questions.
What role has Putin played in Russia’s (health-destroying) response to COVID?
Part I of this series provided a summary of Putin’s involvement in Sputnik V’s development and deployment. Pat II detailed the Russian president’s views on compulsory vaccination. Part III outlined Putin’s positions on “international cooperation” on COVID. Part IV examined to what extent Putin has been involved in formulating and guiding COVID measures in Russia. Part V reviewed how Russia’s response to COVID has changed since February 24.
The chronology of events and statements compiled in these articles doesn’t provide a simple, straightforward answer to our initial question. Instead, this series serves as a starting point from which readers can make informed judgments for themselves.
That being said, we would like to share our own observations and conclusions after spending countless hours researching and writing on this topic.
As is so often the case, the search for answers has only yielded more questions.
Is Putin trapped in a Virus bubble?
What are Putin’s personal views about COVID? Does he view the “novel coronavirus” as a genuine threat? Maybe he is ambivalent and his public statements on this subject echo guidance from Russia’s public health “experts”? Or maybe Putin understands it’s all a massive scam?
One indicator that Putin may not be totally sold on the Virus Narrative is his apparent unwillingness to mask-up. If we exclude his dramatic tour of Kommunarka’s COVID “red zone” in March 2020, there doesn’t seem to be any photographic evidence of Russia’s president donning PPE.
Is this because he knows face diapers have no public health benefit? Maybe it’s simply a matter of optics or personal dignity? After all, what kind of self-respecting world leader would prance around in a useless muzzle (ha-ha. We’re doomed)?
According to the Kremlin, Putin doesn’t wear a mask because he exists in a COVID-free bubble.
Putin’s mask-free existence “does not mean that exhaustive security measures are not being taken,” presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told inquisitive reporters on February 3, 2022.
“The fact is that around the president—you know, this is not a secret—appropriate precautions are being taken. Those people who come into contact with him are tested repeatedly, some of them have to spend a certain number of days in quarantine,” Peskov explained.
Foreign dignitaries are often asked to take a COVID test administered by Russian doctors before being allowed to meet with Putin.
French President Emmanuel Macron refused this procedure when he came to Moscow on February 7. As a result, the two leaders were photographed sitting at opposite ends of a long table.
The Kremlin insisted this wasn’t a snub but rather the observance of the “six meter” rule in situations where guests decline to be screened by Russian doctors.
“This is really due to the fact that some leaders follow their own rules… We treat this with understanding, this is normal world practice, but in this case, the protocol of additional measures enters to protect the health of our president and our guests at the same time. Then a greater distance is applied,” Peskov said on February 11.
However, Peskov noted Putin has no problem with getting “very close” to his visitors when the Kremlin’s protocols are followed to the letter.
As we’ve seen just over the past six months, the distance that Putin keeps between himself and his guests can vary wildly.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (on February 1) and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev (on February 22) were asked to stand several meters away while toasting the Russian leader.
Even Putin’s cabinet members have been instructed to keep their distance.
On February 14, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu were photographed sitting several meters away from Putin as they discussed recent political and military developments in Ukraine.
Photographs of their meeting sparked salacious rumors and theories, prompting Peskov to explain that the seating arrangements were designed to ward off omicron.
“There is nothing terrible or special here. We are going through times that dictate special measures,” Peskov told reporters.
On February 28—four days after the start of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine—Putin held two meetings (one with economic advisers, and the other with Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov) where he was once again photographed sitting meters away from his colleagues.
Putin is actually best-known for his videoconferencing. The seemingly non-stop video calls with his government are partly out of sheer necessity (especially when “meeting” with regional officials), but there’s no doubt that this trend took hold as a result of the coronavirus-triggered “remote work” fad.
But we’ve also seen that Putin will meet face-to-face with his colleagues and foreign dignitaries.
Two months after “long-tabling” Shoigu, Putin sat directly across from his defense minister during a meeting on April 21. In fact, Russia’s president has held numerous face-to-face meetings over the past six months.
Kommersant offers us a curious anecdote. When Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Putin in Sochi in early August of this year, “there was an agreement that the Turkish president, although he wouldn’t have to take COVID tests upon arrival, should at least maintain the appearance of distance,” the paper reported.
Apparently there was some flexibility when it came to social distancing—and in fact, the two leaders actually shook hands during their meeting.
Officially, the Kremlin continues to adhere to stringent anti-COVID measures. The Presidential Administration maintained its mask regime and other measures even after federal authorities (briefly) canceled all remaining rules and restrictions on July 1.
This “high precaution” regime remains in place—perhaps setting an example for the rest of the country. As of late August, more than half of Russia’s regions have reintroduced mask requirements or recommendations.
Is Putin a COVID Karen? Or is he just following the advice of his doctors and health experts? Maybe he understands it’s all biosecurity theater and is merely “playing along”? (But why would he do that at this point?)
Probably we will never know. But the commonly held belief that Putin “knows” what’s going on with the so-called pandemic—and is even fighting to stop our current global nightmare—demands serious scrutiny. Where is the evidence of this?
The Lukashenko riddle
Let’s assume Putin has been living in a COVID bubble, and that he’s surrounded by Virus shills who are feeding him bad information.
Surely, Alexander Lukashenko—who rejected lockdowns, compulsory vaccination, and publicly berated his health minister when there were attempts to enforce mask decrees—has spoken with Putin about the “pandemic” and the “threat” that it poses?
A quick refresher: As Russia entered lockdown in late March 2020, Lukashenko was railing against coronavirus as a “frenzy and psychosis,” declaring “it’s better to die standing than live on your knees.”
In January 2022, he opined that the “pandemic” was essentially a global extortion racket.
“I want to tell all these international crooks: enough already. They have already turned out our pockets so that there is nothing left,” Lukashenko said.
It’s very difficult to believe that none of these comments have reached Putin’s ear. Actually, it’s quite possible Lukashenko has made similar (or even more incendiary) remarks to Putin privately.
Even if Putin was terrified of coronavirus, wouldn’t the “Belarus model” compel him to rethink Russia’s own response to the “pandemic”?
Has Putin never asked himself how Belarus has survived without masks and compulsory injection decrees?
We have a lot more questions—especially given the events of the past six months.
After Russia sent tank into Ukraine in late February, Lukashenko mused that Putin had single-handedly “ended” the so-called pandemic.
“Yesterday I said to Putin: listen, you've done well—war is war, but you instantly stopped all coronaviruses in the world, everyone recovered,” he said on April 13, 2022.
He was perhaps a bit too optimistic. And unfortunately, it seems Belarus is adapting to the reality that COVID injections are here to stay.
On August 19, Lukashenko announced Belarus would soon start manufacturing its own COVID vaccine.
Belarus’ leader now says coronavirus is a “seasonal” disease—something that will probably be with us forever:
The coronavirus is still present in our country. Right now, most of COVID-19 patients are treated at home. This kind of coronavirus is different, it is becoming a seasonal virus, as we expected. If you want to get a vaccine, it is probably a good idea. I have not been vaccinated, but I probably need to.
A few days later, Russia and Belarus finalized an agreement on the mutual recognition of vaccine “certificates” (passports).
In a period of four months, Lukashenko went from saying coronavirus had disappeared to describing it as a seasonal illness. And sadly, it seems even unvaxxed Lukashenko now realizes that not only are the injections not going anywhere, they could even become required for international travel—even in Russia’s sphere of influence.
A painful question that needs to be asked: If Lukashenko now says coronavirus is with us for the foreseeable future, and if Belarus is preparing its own vaccine and signing up for international vax certificate systems, why should anyone expect Putin to “end” the pandemic inside Russia?
There is another piece to this puzzle: Putin’s own “vaccination.”
He received his first dose of an (unnamed) vaccine on March 23, 2021. The second dose was administered on April 14. He declined to disclose whether he was given Sputnik V, EpiVacCorona or CoviVac (two other Russian vaccines that have not been widely used). On June 30, 2021 he revealed he had been injected with Sputnik V.
Unlike other world leaders, Putin did not invite the press to document his vaccination. There are no videos or photographs of him receiving his shots.
On November 21 of the same year, the Kremlin announced Putin had received a booster shot—Sputnik Light. According to the Kremlin, during Putin’s revaccination, the Russian president agreed to take part in tests of the Sputnik V nasal vaccine.
Putin was reportedly administered the barely tested nasal vaccine a day after receiving his booster.
The nasal vaccine is a liquid that is squirted up the nose. But according to Putin, he was given a powder:
“Six months after the vaccination, my protective titers dropped, and the experts recommended a revaccination procedure, which I did a few days ago. First, they did it in the form of an injection, and the next day, after talking with Denis Yuryevich [Logunov, deputy director of the Gamaleya Center], he himself performed the second part of the procedure for me—in the form of a nasal powder,” Putin said.
The President explained that the drug in the form of a powder is taken in the same way as a nasal spray. “It’s just the same syringe, only instead of a liquid substance, he [Logunov] took a powder, asked him to take a deep breath on the count of three, squirted on one side, then the other,” Putin explained. According to him, he didn’t have any feelings after that: “I then sat for 15 minutes, and that was it.”
As RKB reported on November 24, “Putin received the vaccine in the form of a powder … so far this drug is not widely used … The President explained that the preparation in powder form is taken in the same way as a nasal spray.”
Hours later, the Kremlin issues a clarification.
“The President meant that we are talking about a liquid. This is a nasal vaccine, in the trials of which he took part,” Peskov told reporters.
This mysterious nasal vaccine is now being administered to Russians—even though, as of August 7, 2022, Gamaleya is still conducting tests on ferrets.
Are we really supposed to believe Putin was given this experimental drug (liquid, not powder!) in November, nine months before ferret-tests even started? And why would he even agree to take part in this test, a day after allegedly receiving a booster?
What’s going on here?
What’s the deal with Peskov?
Although Putin has insisted he is personally against compulsory vaccination (even though he publicly supported a national digital health pass, which is de facto mandatory vaccination for the entire adult population), his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, has been a crusader for such draconian and discriminatory measures.
Not only has Peskov praised regional compulsory vaccine decrees, he even went so far as to declare that in Russia, like in every other country, “the unvaccinated will live less comfortably than the vaccinated.”
If Putin is so opposed to mandatory vaccination, why is he allowing his own spokesman to say these things? Peskov has been praising mandatory vaccination since it first arrived in Moscow in June 2021. Why didn’t Putin intervene, and tell his spokesman to stop gushing over policies that he doesn’t approve of?
Instead, we witnessed a very curious double-game, in which the Kremlin—via Peskov—applauded coercive measures adopted by the regions, while Putin continued to insist he was personally against strong-arming Russians into getting injected.
If Putin has no say over what his own spokesman says—the guy who is supposed to represent him—why are people so confident that Putin can put a lid on COVID Tyranny?
Is Putin completely surrounded by fifth columnists, and helpless to do anything about it? If so, he’s a hostage—not a savior.
If Putin can’t even control the messaging coming out of the Kremlin, then what does he control?
Or maybe Peskov is doing exactly what Putin wants? There’s also that possibility.
“Putin is not a virologist”
An argument in defense of Russia’s disappointing response to COVID is that Putin is not a virologist and therefore is at the mercy of his country’s WHO-obedient health “experts.”
Sure—but you can use this argument to defend any world leader. With few exceptions, they all acquiesced to “medical professionals” and guidance issued by the World Health Organization.
Putin is often described as far more intelligent, observant and capable than his western counterparts.
Russia’s president is purportedly running circles around the flaccid, sclerotic West. Okay, great—but he doesn’t understand that injecting Russians with a barely tested, experimental genetic cocktail might not be such a great idea? He can’t figure out why that might backfire?
Putin thinks digital health passes will safeguard public health. You don’t have to be a virologist to understand the profound ethical (not to mention anti-health) implications of this insane policy position.
Zero virology is required to understand when “public health” measures aren’t working or are antithetical to public health. Putin doesn’t have expertise in many fields, but he has never shied away from intervening in affairs when he thinks something isn’t going right.
Putin is Russia’s lead manager. There’s a lot to manage, so inevitably he has to delegate responsibilities. He shouldn’t be blamed for deferring to the “experts” when COVID arrived. But surely he has an obligation to reassess the situation after two years of murderous results?
If an independent analysis from October 2021 showed the most-vaccinated regions were faring no better than the least vaccinated parts of Russia, wouldn’t you start asking questions?
Instead, Russia’s regions—with the full backing of the federal government—raced ahead with compulsory vaccination decrees and digital health passes. It took months to drop these measures (and now they are returning). Why? What does this mean?
If your country suffers a natural population decline of 1.04 million people in a year—a figure so enormous that it surpasses even the darkest days of the 90s—wouldn’t you think: “something has gone very wrong”? Wouldn’t you start making inquiries? Wouldn’t you demand answers from your stable of “health” experts?
Even if Putin sincerely believes COVID poses a serious danger, you don’t have to be a virologist to understand Russia’s “coronavirus response” has been an unmitigated, WHO-and-Big-Pharma-fueled disaster.
The closest Putin has come to calling out the “crooks” that Lukashenko pointed to is when he applauded efforts to root out Big Pharma corruption in Russia. But these comments weren’t specific to COVID, and we’re still waiting for the FSB to kick down Alexander Gintsburg’s front door.
Where are the calls for accountability—or even a simple review of current policies?
“Russia just wants a seat at the table”—Yes, but that’s now irrelevant
When this blog highlights Russia’s dealings with the WEF, or the WHO, or other seedy organizations full of space lizards, a common refrain is: “Russia just wants a seat at the table.”
The issue isn’t that Putin gave a speech at Davos, or that Russia’s health minister is on the WHO’s executive board.
None of that would matter if Russia just wanted a “seat at the table” but ultimately decided to pursue its own course after the “pandemic” arrived. But that’s not what happened. The exact opposite happened. Russia did what everyone else “at the table” did. This is all that really matters.
In terms of biosecurity theater and soul-crushing technocracy, there’s been no meaningful U-turn, even after Russia declared “open war” against the Collective West.
Does this mean Putin is some kind of zombie WEF puppet? Definitely not. [UPDATE: just to clarify, by this we mean: Putin’s ties to the WEF don’t automatically make him some kind of stooge; nevertheless, one could still make the argument. And an argument can certainly be made. — Edward]
Is Russia doing what everyone else “at the table” is doing? The answer is yes, and that’s unacceptable—no matter “why” it’s happening.
There is an obvious double standard here as well: if Russia were to withdraw from the WHO tomorrow, people would (rightly) cheer this as clear proof that Moscow had chopped all ties with the “globalists” and was going its own way.
But apparently there’s nothing wrong or problematic with remaining in the WHO—while inviting Dr. Tedros to speak about how to inject Russians and the rest of the world’s population with unproven genetic “vaccines”? You can’t have it both ways, friends.
We can have a debate about to what extent the WEF and other organizations are calling the shots inside Russia—but that’s a totally separate issue.
People are acting as if the fact that Putin isn’t a Young Global Leader proves Russia has freed itself from the same anti-human garbage being forced on the rest of the world. No. Anyone who is willing to look knows Russia is pursing these same exact policies.
Russia is now a controlled experiment. Here’s a country that is now villainized by the entire West, is currently under 10,000+ sanctions, has been condemned by the WHO, and blacklisted by the WEF.
And Russia has responded by… creating a monkeypox PCR test and developing an “omicron booster” at the exact same time as Pfizer and Moderna.
There’s really no ambiguity here.
“Despite everything that is happening in the world, despite the general tension that exists … we cannot weaken attention to the pandemic, or the conclusions that we all made as a result of our joint work on counteracting the new coronavirus infection,” Dmitry Medvedev declared on June 28, 2022.
Regions are installing thermal cameras to screen schoolchildren for the Dreaded Virus. And we’re supposed to believe that Russia is a bulwark against global biosecurity theater?
If you are of the opinion that Russia isn’t under the influence of nefarious foreign forces—and maybe it isn’t—then who is calling the shots? And who is ultimately responsible for what happens inside Russia—especially now?
Is Putin to blame for everything that happens inside Russia? No. Absolutely not. But the buck stops with him. Is he even trying to fix this horrific mess?
Where is the critical thinking? Why the double standards?
The world isn’t black-and-white—so why is “independent” media terrified of even mild criticisms of the Russian government?
There’s no way around the fact that Russia’s response to COVID has been completely mischaracterized, misrepresented, and ignored by our cherished “independent” media. Why is this? And what does it mean?
We will explore this curious phenomenon in Part VII.
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"Is Putin completely surrounded by fifth columnists, and helpless to do anything about it? If so, he’s a hostage—not a savior.
If Putin can’t even control the messaging coming out of the Kremlin, then what does he control?
Or maybe Peskov is doing exactly what Putin wants? There’s also that possibility."
This is exactly what I've told Trump supporters who kept on excusing him for not doing anything. If you're powerless and have a fucking soul, why would you keep playing pretend?
If you or I were in that situation and wanted to stay, why would we continue to do what we knew was wrong? We would send mixed signals to the people, like a hostage would, so that they know it's rigged. But neither Trump or Putin or xi did this. They're sellouts.
A big 🖕 to people who excuse this medical pseudoscience. I remember one ass who shall be not named saying that the Chinese locked down because the Han were targeted by this weak flu like illness. Yeah fucking right, where's the statistics to show that your fucking clot shots and lockdowns help?
Even though virology is a pseudoscience, going by their own logic, you would only protect the weak and vulnerable, not lock down a whole fucking city!
I feel like these 5d chess lovers are really as deluded as Trump supporters, thinking that there's a contingency of "white hats" trying to fix things. This is bullshit. If there were such a thing, why the fuck are these nations still following lockstep many months after the "death toll" is over?
And to whoever believes the lab leak story that was seeded at the start and now being used to push fear of more "viruses", just look at the fucking stats.
Total deaths in most nations 2020 in line with previous years.
Along with that, average age of con-vid death was around or a bit higher than life expectancy age.
What fucking new disease? The stats show none of this sort ever during the pandemic year!
The only 'lab leak' 'engineered' thing are the fucking toxic clot shots.
I used to think those who questioned vaccines in the past were mislead.
But con-vid opened my eyes to how even before this bullshit, people were getting injured by vaccines such as MMR, gardasil, and the hep b shots.
Looking at the reason why, it's clear to see that if you inject things with nanoparticles of shitty stuff like aluminum, mercury, formeldahyde, and lipids (convid shots), you're gonna have issues.
This is the one thing that the masses avoid, that they lined up their kids to get toxins injected into them, and they did it too as a kid. People don't want to realize that they were hoodwinked! Stubborn ego bullshit.
All of this talk of spike protein and graphene is fucking nonsense! Moderna had issues before convid with the lipids. But even among those who question this nonsense, Occam's razor is not being followed.
First, off-topic... Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the USSR died yesterday. I went through Russian language social media comments. May be 5% at most view him and his legacy in a positive or somewhat positive way, the rest have a very negative view of this leader in contrast with the Western MSM singing praises to a person whom most Russians consider to be the biggest traitor in their history. This year, after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we have seen massive departure of the architects of the dissolution of the Soviet Union - Kravchuk (Ukraine), Shushkevich (Belarus), Burbulis (Russia) and now the chief architect of perestroika resulting in collapse of not only of the largest country but a world order that existed for half a century, Gorbachev. Their departure, in my view, does signal rapidly approaching end of yet another world order that existed between 1991 and now.
As for Putin and Russia's role in the COVID theatrics that we keep observing now for two and a half years. First to the phrase "But Russia just wants a seat at the table". This is true to an extent, but does not convey the urgency (for Russia) of the situation. Russia doesn't just want a seat at the table, but it desperately wants a seat at the table. This goes well beyond active participation in the organizations like WEF or WHO, but in sports or anything else that has to do with international cooperation. To illustrate what I'm saying take this example. Did you know that absolute majority of international sports associations have banned Russia from hosting international competitions and prohibited Russian athletes from participating in competitions under their country's flag or from using national symbols including anthem? Did you ever see this happening to any other nation? This happened well before the current war and the formal reason was the use of doping by the Russian athletes, while all statistics showed that Russians weren't even among first three in this regard. The list of organizations that did that is long, it starts with IOC and continues with UEFA, FIFA, IIHF, ISU and so on and so forth. Russia's answer? To ban a young gymnast that featured letter Z on his uniform during international event from taking part in competitions in Russia. Or the fact that football (soccer) clubs from Crimea for 8 years and to this day are not allowed to compete in the Russian internal football leagues afraid to displease UEFA and FIFA that don't recognize Crimea as Russian territory. Did I convey enough of the urgency, desperation, humility and the sacrifices Russia is ready to make only to get a seat at that table? This is just a small example but similar stories are found everywhere, including the field of education, science and so on. So why are we surprised to see Russia follow directions of the WHO on COVID and other matters? "Entrantism", e.g. desire to enter West controlled international structures and to get a seat at the table there, term invented by Russian philosopher Sergey Kurginyan, was and remains to be the sacrosanct principle on which new Russia was built.
On Putin and his personal role in all of that. I wrote about it on this blog already, but will briefly repeat the fabula. Putin was hand picked out of nowhere and installed as a president of Russia with one main goal - to assure that Russia would not only get a seat at the table, but a relatively respectful place (perhaps like France) with the right to retain certain idiosyncrasies like social traditionalism, Orthodox religion and so on. Not much to ask, really, especially when we see countries like Saudi Arabia allowed their own deviations from the general Western line yet being accepted by the international community. So you may think of him as a chief negotiator on Russia's behalf to guarantee not only a seat at the table, but also some special rights along with that. Was Putin successful in his principal endeavor? To be fair, we have to say - probably not. His SMO that started this February can also be seen through the prism of his main stated goal. When all the other methods appeared not to work, came time for escalation and a power game, but with the same unchanged target - a respectable seat at the table.
What works against Putin is that he is in a highly protected and controlled bubble. This is a result of him being in a position of at least formal power for way too long. Putin, unlike Medvedev, is not known to receive information from the alternative sources like social media directly, what he gets on his table in a form of daily summarized reports is highly controlled by the President's Administration office (AP) where direction of what Putin should or shouldn't know is controlled by the people like Vaino and Kirienko. Getting into unexpectedly drawn out war with Ukraine is with high probability a result of incomplete and sometimes outright misleading information fed to him before making a decision to start the invasion. His ambivalent position on mandatory vaccination is dictated by his favorite method of ruling - to stay above the fight and to be the arbiter among the different Kremlin towers (pillars of power).