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23 Dec, 2021 06:58

Russia's top challenges for 2022 named by key Putin ally

Russia's top challenges for 2022 named by key Putin ally

Russia’s battle with high rates of Covid-19 infections and deaths will drag on into next year, one of the country’s leading lawmakers has said, emphasizing that the pandemic still threatens lives across the globe.

“Of course, the main challenge of 2022 is coronavirus, which hasn’t gone anywhere,” Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of Russia’s parliament, told journalists on Tuesday. “We need to think about how to keep living in the conditions of the pandemic. So this challenge remains, not only in our country, but around the whole world.”

Among other difficulties facing Russia in the upcoming year, the politician acknowledged that there are “more than enough” problems in foreign affairs. “Our task is to legally back up the decisions that our head of state makes,” he said. “Our foreign policy is effective enough. If it had existed in the time of the USSR, many problems could have been avoided.”

Regarding domestic issues, Volodin said, “It is absolutely necessary for us to overcome poverty.”

So far, Russia has officially tallied nearly 10 million cases of Covid-19 and at least 280,000 confirmed deaths from the virus, making its overall mortality rate among the top 30 countries worldwide.

The nation has battled a spike in cases recently, setting successive records for single-day death counts, and officials have encouraged people to get vaccinated. However, despite the wide availability of domestically produced vaccines since last year, less than half the country has gotten the jab. This week, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov called those who advocate against vaccination “dangerous fools.”

A 2020 World Bank report identified that in 2018, 12.9% of Russia’s population had been living in poverty, down from 13.2% the previous year. In May 2018, President Vladimir Putin announced a target of halving the official poverty rate over the next six years. The report warned, however, that this goal would be extremely difficult to meet given the country’s lack of meaningful GDP growth.