Putin Says U.S. Is in ‘Deep Internal Crisis’

Putin Says U.S. Is in ‘Deep Internal Crisis’

Putin Says U.S. Is in ‘Deep Internal Crisis’

Putin Says U.S. Is in ‘Deep Internal Crisis’

MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Sunday described the United States as a country gripped by a “deep internal crisis” and attributed it to what he said was a refusal by opponents of President Trump to accept his “obvious” 2016 election victory and his legitimacy as leader.

Speaking in his first interview since the coronavirus pandemic hit Russia hard three months ago and forced him to take shelter at his country residence, Mr. Putin also pointed to the racial tensions that have put cities across the United States on edge.

Russia and before that the Soviet Union, he said, always had “lots of sympathy for the fight of African-Americans for their natural rights.” But, Mr. Putin said, when protests “turn into mayhem and pogroms, I see nothing good for the country.”

He described the pulling down of statues as “undoubtedly a destructive phenomenon” and claimed that protests had at times been infected by “radical nationalism and extremism.”

While insisting that he wanted to be “very careful” in his comments on events in the United States, Mr. Putin has often been accused of trying to sow American division, and appeared to be using the interview to do so again, taking a swipe at America’s handling of the coronavirus under Mr. Trump.

Mr. Putin, too, has come under pointed criticism over his response to the pandemic.

With his approval ratings at their lowest level since he came to power 20 years ago, he has been eager to declare victory over the coronavirus so that health concerns don’t again disrupt nationwide military parades, now scheduled for June 24, and a referendum, postponed until July 1, on constitutional changes that would allow him to stay in office until 2036.

Mr. Putin also used the interview to take aim at opponents of Mr. Trump who have accused the Kremlin of tilting the 2016 election in his favor, something Moscow has repeatedly denied doing. American intelligence agencies, in a joint assessment of suspected Russian meddling in the 2016 vote, concluded in January 2018 that “Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.”

America’s “longstanding” problem with racism, Mr. Putin said, had aggravated a deep crisis of legitimacy that “we have been observing for a long time.” Instead of accepting that Mr. Trump “obviously won in an absolutely democratic way,” supporters of Hillary Clinton “came up with all sorts of fables to cast doubt on his legitimacy,” he said.

Mr. Putin’s comments were broadcast Sunday evening on state television after a weekly television news digest that gave a picture of relentless mayhem on American streets. The host, Dmitri Kiselyov, suggested that the United States today resembles the Soviet Union as it stumbled toward collapse at the end of 1991.

The idea that the United States faces an existential crisis with echoes of the crisis-plagued Soviet empire has become a popular theme in Kremlin-controlled news media outlets in recent days, particularly on television.

“This is their perestroika,” said Vladimir Solovyov, the host of a Sunday night talk show, referring to the chaotic process of reform that Mikhail S. Gorbachev began in the mid-1980s. His goal was to revive the Soviet Union, but it ultimately led to its destruction.

  • Updated June 12, 2020

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus?

      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

    • How do we start exercising again without hurting ourselves after months of lockdown?

      Exercise researchers and physicians have some blunt advice for those of us aiming to return to regular exercise now: Start slowly and then rev up your workouts, also slowly. American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the stay-at-home mandates began in March than they were in January. But there are steps you can take to ease your way back into regular exercise safely. First, “start at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before Covid,” says Dr. Monica Rho, the chief of musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Thread in some preparatory squats, too, she advises. “When you haven’t been exercising, you lose muscle mass.” Expect some muscle twinges after these preliminary, post-lockdown sessions, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a clarion call to stop and return home.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


Contrasting Russia’s response to the pandemic with that of the United States, Mr. Putin said, “We are exiting the coronavirus situation steadily, with minimal losses, God willing, but in the States it isn’t happening like this.”

Russia, with around 9,000 new infections reported daily, is the third-hardest-hit country after the United States and Brazil. It has repeatedly declared that it has the virus under control, despite evidence that it is still spreading fast in some areas and persistent questions about its unusually low official death toll. Moscow last week began lifting lockdown restrictions that had been among the most stringent in the world.

Russia’s handling of the coronavirus, he said, has proved the importance of having a “single team” in control of the country instead of a fragmented system, as in the United States. There, he said, governors are free to tell the president to “get lost,” and “partisan interests are put above the interests of the whole society and the interests of the people.”


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