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Moscow Mayor, a leader in Russia’s COVID-19 pandemic, comes out against government payments to citizens

Source: RIA Novosti

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has given an interview to Russia’s Channel One in which he argues against giving Russian citizens cash payments to curb the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. RIA Novosti reported on the interview, which is due to air on the evening of April 3.

“You know, there’s also been a discussion about how we should immediately pay everybody out of the budget. That’s also wrong. The budgets are cracking — they won’t even be able to cover the healthcare system and so on,” Sobyanin said.

The mayor believes the current pandemic is a time for business to “demonstrate its social position”: “I think most enterprises have enough resources to provide [for a month] for those individuals who are currently not working,” he said, according to RIA Novosti.

Russia’s economic approach to the pandemic has differed from those of many other large countries in that, so far, Moscow has ordered a month of paid leave for almost all workers and compensated for the business losses inherent in that policy by providing relatively small funding packages to banks. That funding has two explicit purposes: paying businesses and delaying their credit payment deadlines.

The total amount of direct payments (as opposed to credit support) provided by the executive cabinet as of April 2 is equivalent to one months’ minimum-wage salary for about 215,000 Russians. The minimum wage in Russia is currently 12,130 rubles (about $157).

Interfax reported that Sobyanin did tell Channel One additional payments for businesses are a possibility if the necessity should arise. Sobyanin has established a record of taking stricter action against the pandemic than his federal counterparts.

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