Moscow's Communists Warn "There Will Be Mass Starvation" And Protests As Coronavirus Slams Russian Economy

As Russian lawmakers and the government led by Vladimir Putin, who has taken a step back and is allowing his prime minister and other government officials to lead the response, plot to offer assistance to small businesses in and around Moscow, and elsewhere, members of the opposition warned Moscow's mayor that "mass starvation" might ensue if the government fails to rescue small businesses.

According to the Moscow Times, the leader of the Russian Communist Party in Moscow's Duma warned that unemployment could more than triple resulting in as many as 8 million adult Russians out of work. If that happens, and Muscovites aren't provided with enough money or food, people will starve, as President Putin's "Non-Working Month" wreaks havoc on the Russian economy.

The letter was provided to one of Moscow's largest business publications, which published it first.

"Failure to take [support] measures in the coming months may lead to mass starvation...In the event of spontaneous unsanctioned protests attended by several thousand residents, all responsibility will fall on Moscow’s executive authority," said party leader Nikolai Zubrilin.

Among other steps, the opposition reportedly suggested that the city dole out 20,000 rubles ($250) to all Muscovites to help pay all of their utility bills and groceries for the year out of the city budget and suspend loan payments until Dec. 31. To finance these expenses, the Communists want to reduce spending on Moscow’s sprawling renovation program, metro construction and other "non-essential" city construction projects.

The Communist Party’s letter comes after another opposition party, Yabloko, proposed to reroute 300 billion rubles ($3.8 billion) of the city’s infrastructure and entertainment budget toward aid for small businesses and workers.

About one-third of Russian companies have forced workers to take leave without pay since the beginning of  Putin’s "non-working" period, which began late last month.

Russia reported a record batch of new cases for the fourth day in a row on Wednesday, with 3,388 new cases, bringing the total to 24,490 cases in total. Confirmations continue to accelerate despite the fact that the country has been on lockdown for two weeks. Putin was one of the first world leaders to resort to travel bans, but like Trump, his government did little to prepare for the coming onslaught in late February and early March.