It is worth noting that Valery Rashkin, a member of the Communist Party faction did not actually suggest anything new. He only put forward a proposal that had been obvious for a long time, especially on the background of experience in a number of Western countries, where the distribution of protective equipment to the residents is a common practice during a pandemic.
In Russia, the situation with protective face masks became tense even before the imposition of lockdown measures. At that moment, the global pandemic was only gaining momentum, and only a few cases of the coronavirus infection were registered in the country. Anyway, since then, many people have complained that the introduction of the “mask regime” in some regions has forced them to spend the last money on the protective accessories, the prices of which had become skyrocketing. Experts, in turn, continue demanding that the authorities not only provide the Russians with direct financial assistance, but also with all the essential protective equipment at the expense of the state. Given the current situation, this would be quite logical.
Russians are Short of Money
Recently, Russians have got a real chance to be heard. A recommendation to hand out free gloves and masks to the residents of the country was made public at the State Duma lower house of the Russian parliament recently. This proposal was made by Valery Rashkin, a deputy representing the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF). He noted that in some regions wearing protective equipment had become mandatory, and in case of violations, people might face huge fines.
“In some regions, the introduction of a mandatory requirement to wear masks has become a heavy and almost impossible burden for the Russians,” said Rashkin, explaining his idea of free masks and gloves for the residents. “Even in the fairly well-off Moscow, its wealthy residents have to spend at least 20,000 rubles ($276.40) on a family of three to comply with the rules. If these rules are broken, people might face huge fines. They are much higher than the assistance that Muscovites are supposed to receive.”
Rashkin also drew the fellow-deputies’ attention to the fact that the gloves and masks currently sold in the capital's metro are not certified products. Additionally, the cash turnover they generate does not help observe safety measures and only increases the risk of catching the virus.
Russians Have Enough Money
It is worth noting that Rashkin did not actually suggest anything new. He only put forward a proposal that has been obvious for a long time, especially given the experience gained in a number of Western countries, where the distribution of protective equipment to the residents during a pandemic is common practice not requiring any discussion.
However, as it has often happened in recent years, this idea was quickly forgotten in the State Duma due the efforts of the ruling United Russia party.
For example, Dmitri Morozov, head of the parliamentary health protection committee and a member of the United Russia faction, responded to Rashkin’s proposal by saying that his committee doesn't support this idea, since there are enough masks in the country and the President has already promised to provide financial aid to the Russians. In addition, Morozov noted that a little earlier, on behalf of Vyacheslav Volodin, the State Duma speaker, a work group was set up in parliament, which included representatives of several specialized committees from the State Duma. This task force was responsible for regulation of the prices of face masks and other medical products. “It should be recalled that there was even a law adopted in order to provide the residents with them,” summed up Morozov.
Deputy Morozov also noted that there is a weekly increase by 10% in the production of masks in Russia which gradually brings down their price. Moreover, according to him, the Russians have money to buy the above-mentioned protective accessories. “I am not going to list the measures to support the residents and their families that have been recently announced by the President,” he said.
After his speech, only 74 deputies supported the proposal to issue free masks to Russian residents during the restrictive measures aimed at combating the coronavirus infection. However, there were no deputies who voted against or at least abstained from voting. Traditionally, United Russia ignored voting not to get into the list of those who denied basic assistance to the people.