Despite the string of events, the year 2020 has been radically and primarily determined by the pandemic
VICTOR LOUPAN, Head of the Editorial Board
There is no secret that our ancestors had believed in curses for centuries. So, if they lived today, they would believe that the year 2020 was cursed by someone. Because our ancestors primarily judged by droughts, natural anomalies, locust infestations, violent fires, and, of course, epidemics!
Let us start with the epidemic. Although, if you carefully recall what had been happening to us over the year 2020, it turns out that every month brought us something certainly disgusting and sometimes entirely terrible. While preparing this article, I involuntarily noticed that all the worst thoughts came out the top of my head. There was some good news though. The Chinese, for example, brought lunar soil to Earth. Great! Russia seems to have settled the conflict in Karabakh. Before that the entire Christian world had silently watched the beating of the Armenians. Russia has also come up with a vaccine against COVID-19!
I wish to add that the events which were very joyful to all of us also took place at a purely human level. For example, births of children and grandchildren! For normal people, it always brings a great joy. So, my eleventh grandson arrived to our family, and he is a wonderful boy!
But personal or individual joys have nothing to do with it. The main thing is collective intelligence and general perception of what is happening in the aggregate.
The year began roughly. As early as on January 3, something happened that led all the mass media to a discussion of the possible start of the World War III. Because the US Army launched an air strike on the outskirts of the Baghdad Airport and killed one of the most glorious and powerful Iranian military officers, General Qassim Suleimani. He was an extraordinary general, a renowned hero, a commander of the Al-Quds Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps special forces. The furious Iranians promised a fierce revenge.
A week later, on January 11, news agencies published a message that some hitherto unknown virus caused a man’s death in China. This is how the “epidemic” with the notorious Coronavirus began, which smoothly turned into global psychosis. We will come back to this topic later.
The conflict in Syria brought Russia and Turkey to the edge of war. And again mass media started talking about the World War III, because Turkey is a NATO member. In 2020 the Turks generally began to play up not only with Russia, but also with the European Union.
Less was written about it, but by the end of the month Africa faced the most massive locust infestation over the entire known history of the continent. Experts say, due to global warming locust activity has increased and it is even more sedulously devouring the crop. As a result, millions of Africans lost their income and, most importantly, food. It pushed them, of course, to migrate even more massively. Especially to Europe.
Due to plunge in oil prices amid the global Coronavirus panic, the Russian rouble has collapsed.
Around the same time, the “epidemic” turned into a “pandemic”, and stock markets fell all over the world without exception.
Almost all countries in Europe and America announced quarantine measures. The American word “lockdown” is becoming a popular word. Everywhere presidents and prime ministers are reaching out to the peoples to encourage humans to #stayhome. Vladimir Putin also appears on TV screens to announce the first “non-working” days. Following the “lockdown”, a new but popular Russian expression “distant work”, or simply “distantsionka”, appears. Like the French or Belgians, Russians spend April at home listening to the president’s regular addresses.
Following the brutal murder of black George Floyd by the police, a wave of protests erupts in the United States, which soon escalates into a riot accompanied with robberies, beatings, and murders. US troops are sent to some cities. The American mass media began talking about the beginning of a new civil war. Especially against the background of the processions near the White House which were highlighted in the context of a very biased election campaign.
Demonstrations and chaotic gatherings of unorganised masses contribute to spreading of the Coronavirus. Unexpectedly (especially for the Americans) the USA are becoming the world “champion” in death rate due to the pandemic. Which is extremely strange for such a developed country.
In many countries the pandemic is starting to subside, the national capitals and major cities are reviving, although Coronavirus has not gone anywhere. People are advised to shy away from each other, wear masks and gloves, and disinfect their hands. Generally speaking, to live in fear.
The main global event of the month included the zeroing of the presidential terms of Vladimir Putin resulting from the amendments introduced to the Constitution of the Russian Federation. According to the Central Election Commission, at least 80% of those who voted at the referendum supported the proposed amendments. It means that, theoretically, Vladimir Putin can be elected, re-elected and maintain his presidency until 2036!
In Belarus, mass protests renewed against the official presidential re-election of Alexander Lukashenko. After the initial days of incredibly brutal police violence, the authorities changed their tactics, after which demonstrations held on Saturday and Sunday became commonplace, and mass media paid less and less attention to them.
Vladimir Putin’s official announcement of the registration of the world’s first vaccine against COVID-19 became the sensation of the month. But it was greeted with irony in the Western countries.
The second sensation included the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. Charite Hospital in Berlin, where he was taken to from Omsk in a coma, reported that he was poisoned with a substance from the group of cholinesterase inhibitors.
At the beginning of the month the German government declared that Alexei Navalny had been poisoned with a nerve agent from the Novichok group. Negations and arguments of the Russian party were of no concern.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the oldest Supreme Court Justice, died in the United States at the height of the presidential race. She was known for her extremely liberal and feminist views. Mrs. Ginsburg’s death has become a political sensation, especially as US Supreme Court judges play a critical part in determining the winner of the presidential election. Her death changed the balance of power in the Supreme Court in favour of the republican or pro-republican majority.
In Belarus, despite ongoing numerous protests, Alexander Lukashenko held a solemn inauguration ceremony for the presidency. However, the EU member states refused to recognise him as a legally elected head of the state.
At the very end of the month a war broke out between Azerbaijan and Armenia, but officially, the “Nagorno-Karabakh Defence Army”. The very beginning of hostilities is not that significant here as it was to be expected, but the fact is important that the Turkish army and its Syrian mercenary fighters are taking part in them. At first, Azerbaijan denied this fact, but then it was forced to admit it.
The high-profile murder of a previously unknown French middle school teacher Samuel Paty was the main sensation of the month. He was beheaded right in the street, in broad daylight, by an 18-year-old native of Chechnya. The police officers who arrived at the scene of the crime were forced to shoot the young man, because he rushed at them brandishing a kitchen knife. Samuel Paty died because of a scandal inflated on the Internet due to the fact that during his lecture he decided to discuss with schoolchildren the cartoons of Mohammed, because of which the entire editorial office of the Parisian satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo was shot at point-blank. His killer specially arrived from another city in order to commit his monstrous crime.
Another sensation of the month was the virtual ban on abortion in Poland, which led to massive protests with blocking of roads and highways. The EU authorities also criticised Poland for adopting such a law.
By the end of the month, due to an increase in COVID-19 cases, the French government declared a general isolation regime and imposed a curfew.
According to protracted preliminary calculations, Donald Trump was not re-elected as US president. But he refused to concede defeat; on the contrary, he accused Joe Biden of illegitimacy and the Democrats of criminal machinations. As we know now, Trump’s threats and the litigation he promised will get nowhere.
On November 9, a Russian military helicopter was shot down in the airspace of Armenia. Azerbaijan immediately offered its apologies, and Russia accepted them. Unexpectedly on the same day Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a statement on ceasefire and the introduction of the Russian Peacekeeping Contingent to the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The violent reaction of Turkey which was excluded from the treaty, indicated that it regarded the treaty as an intolerable strategic victory for Russia.
The anti-Russian political orientation of the United States manifested itself once again as the unanimous approval of the Rodchenkov Act by the Senate, which criminalises schemes tolerating violation of the anti-doping rules. Of course, outside the US.
A series of protests took place across the globe against the restrictions associated with the pandemic. The largest of these included the massive strike in India involving 250 million people. People protested not only against restrictions on freedoms, but also against a sharp decline in living standards.
The last month of the year was marked by new US sanctions against Russia in connection with the Navalny case. This time, they directly concern the highest ranking officials, especially engaged in the security and law enforcement agencies. Europe also joined the sanctions, but at a less aggressive level.
Coronavirus also persistently drew attention to itself: its mutation was recorded in the UK. It challenges the vaccination procedure which has already started in a number of EU countries and in the United States too. Because, if the new, British, virus variance spreads, it will not be clear whether the medicinal properties of the current vaccines will cover it. Is the mutant a slightly modified COVID-19, or are its properties so differ from a previous variance that the virus is completely different? Experts are silent. But the UK is already isolated from the rest of the world, just in case.
Despite the string of events, the year 2020 has been radically and primarily determined by the pandemic, that not only led to very dangerous social, economic, and political consequences the essence of which are not yet fully recognised by us, but also to massive cancellations and postponements of all kinds of events, quarantine isolation, protests in many countries, the largest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. In post-Soviet Russia, the current economic recession has become the hardest since 1998 – the year of default.
Let us hope that the year 2021 will not be as depressing as 2020.
Happy New Year, dear readers!