3 Homemade Russian Machines You Can Buy On The Internet

Sometimes I sit around pining for the good old days in Russia. You know, when you had to use your elbows while occupying a queue at 3 a.m. or saran wrap your bag to be granted access to a grocery store.

It’s almost like life is too easy these days in Russia. You can do most of your bureaucratic hoop-jumping online and for those moments when you need to visit the government entity in question, you can normally “take a number”. There is, of course, home restaurant delivery, together with just about any other service you could imagine. I recently saw a service that will even take your trash out for you. All of this is boring… and degrading, to say the least.

To be serious, Russians are more in a hurry these days, less likely to drink tea for hours, and more likely to be busy making money. Sometimes it feels like they took capitalism and put it on steroids. Can’t say as I blame them, but it also feels like something valuable went missing.

Another fantastic part about Russian culture that seems to be particularly absent in Moscow is mechanical ingenuity. I remember the brake system of my brand new UAZ being jerry-rigged in the freezing cold of January along a lonely highway in the Urals with a random piece of wire (obviously, by a Russian, not me) in the late ’90s. But in 21st century Russia, an increasing number of folks are coasting into the American way of not using any mechanical skills but just calling roadside service.

With this deterioration of mechanical ingenuity, I decided to go to Avito, Russia’s online classified portal, to get some much-needed reassurance that Russia was still held together in the hands of Russia’s genius village engineering wunderkind. And here are a few items I found that you too can purchase for the right price:

Homemade Tractor:

If you have enough spare parts, through the miracle of evolution, they could possibly fall together in the correct configuration to produce useful machinery.

Alternatively, you could end up with something like this:

Imagine pulling up to the village disco on this bad boy on a Friday night. You would be Vasya #1 in your neighborhood and all the local Tanyas would be clamoring for a ride.

Why waste your hard-earned money on a store-bought tractor, when you can always have a repair job to occupy any free time in your life?

The lack of apparent usefulness in this particular model is compensated by, um, personality? This wonder of village technology, boasts new tires, according to the ad, and can be yours for one low price of 46,000 rubles. This is an exclusive offer, available only in the village of Orlik, you know, the village of Orlik in the Belgorod region. There is no mention in the ad if the chicken and dog will be part of the deal.

Homemade Freight Truck:

If farming isn’t your cup of vodka, and you’re more into transportation and logistics, but on a budget. You can make your own homemade freight truck. Or not to waste any time building your own, you can buy this beauty.

With a price tag that is suspiciously lower than a homemade tractor, you can soon be transporting the harvests of the Motherland for just 36,000 rubles.

According to the ad, there is need for some work on the brake system, BUT the rear axle is from a Studebaker. And now, as so often happens in this great nation, I’m left with more questions than answers.

Bonus Homemade Freight Truck: Have more metal and random buckets of paint than you know what to. do with? Spend your Saturdays combining the two and this will be the result:

This reminds me of a vehicle I rode around in Tunisia on once. Please note the windshield wipers and flags. I feel like I need to stand and take off my hat.

Homemade Snowmobile:

Perhaps you’re more into the out of doors and relaxation than any kind of work? And winter’s just around the corner!

Or maybe because you’re Russian, you don’t have any wheels laying around, just some skis.

Well, here you go:

This sleek Arctic fox will set you back 41,000 rubles, but the ad boasts a Honda engine and lots of fun for both kids and adults alike.

Alternative popular homemade snowmobile model:

Russia, please never stop building whatever idea just randomly popped into your head. Only you know how to make humor and resourcefulness collide in such a way to inspire both amusement and a little bit of fear from comrades worldwide. Never stop doing that.

Russia Upsets Switzerland At American Football 36-9

Football isn’t their day job, but it is their lives. There is a small but growing and wildly energetic American football movement in Russia.

There was an attempt to start an American football league in the early 90’s, but it fizzled out and the American Football league in Russia was reborn in 2002 and now boasts 11 teams from 6 regions.

The “underdog” Russians coming out of the tunnel in Switzerland

According to the American Football International web-site, the Russians were coming, hoping for an upset.

But if you thought the Russians were coming “just for fun”, allow me to show you their rousing rendition of “Katyusha” as they exit the tunnel before the game. And I must admit, this video, which I originally saw on the social media page of the Vologda Vikings is the real inspiration behind this post. The Russian teams is amped for some American football, and proud to represent their homeland.

The first half was slow, with the Swiss holding the lead at the two-minute warning 3-0. The Russians took the lead with a Russian (sorry, I mean “rushing” touchdown) with 1:48 left in the first half. The score at the end of the 3rd quarter was Russia 16, Switzerland 9, the Swiss lurking just a touchdown away from Russia.

But with under 8 minutes left in the 4th Quarter, Team Russia decided to go into superpower mode, adding another Russian/rushing touchdown to extend the lead. The announcer stated, “As I said just a few minutes ago, I don’t think Team Russia can run the ball down Team Switzerland’s throat, but that’s exactly what they just did.” The score was 22-9 on a botched extra point.

The power of the energetic off-tune Katyushka singing in the tunnel was felt again with a short passing touchdown with 2:35 left in the game. And the final nail in the coffin was administered with yet another TD with 0:42 left on the clock. What Team Russia lacks in understanding about running down the game clock when you have a commanding lead left with only seconds left was compensated by Team Switzerland taking a short run in the resulting series to end the game. Final Score Russia 36, Switzerland 9.

You can watch the full game here, with most of the action taking place in the 4th Quarter. Enjoy!

And to all the Russians who not only are on Team Russia but give so much of their energy to their local teams around Russia, please accept my congratulations. Your energy inspires me, this is a big win for all of us in Russia!

Torzhok: Ancient Crossroads Between Moscow and St. Petersburg

Russia seems to have a never-ending supply of historical cities. And if you’ve lived in Russia for 22 years, like me, you might start getting a little cocky thinking you know all of the historical and even lesser-known cities such as Kostroma, Petrozavodsk, or Vyborg. So, when my Russian friend Zhenya suggested we visit Torzhok with our Russian-language YouTube channel, I wasn’t just surprised, I honestly had no idea what he was talking about, but we quickly agreed to make the trip.

Torzhok is conveniently located halfway between Moscow and St. Petersburg. This was doubly convenient in our situation as I am in Moscow and Zhenya hails from St. Petersburg. You can travel to Torzhok by train from Moscow via Tver, for less than 1000 rubles. There is a direct overnight train from St. Petersburg. And, of course, travel by car has become much easier to Torzhok from either city with the new Moscow-St. Petersburg superhighway.

The Tvertsiy River courses through the heart of the ancient city of Torzhok

Torzhok was first mentioned in an ancient chronicle in 1139 as “Novy Torg”, which means “New Trade”. It was a commanding point on a trade route to Novgorod. And although it once held a key position in trade, it now has the feel of a sleepy provincial town that has been left to remember its rich history.

A birds-eye view of the Boris and Gleb Monastery that overlooks Torzhok from a hilltop.

I understand there is a Shell oil refinery on the edge of town that perhaps keeps the local economy alive, but when in the city there is only a very real sense of history.

Of course, Moscow and St. Petersburg are cities that have invested massive resources into renovating their historical architecture, and rightly so. But sometimes, the feeling is that the renovation has been done so well, that the feeling of history is lost. And this is what I loved about Torzhok most: They are renovating, but there is much work to do, and this is a chance to not just see, but feel the history.

Zhenya and I met a church photographer who argues that renovations must be done using ancient tools, rather than modern construction methods. An interesting point.

If you’ve been to both Moscow and St. Petersburg and are looking for a short getaway nearby, or on your trip between the two major cities, Torzhok is definitely worth stopping overnight and for a day. Or you can do what I did, and meet your friend from the other city at what is roughly the halfway point.

Trying out some of the local cuisine at the “Onyx” restaurant, with our guide Sergei

If you’re looking for a guided trip, check out this site. We weren’t able to work out our schedule to make it to any of their events, but they recommended Sergei to be our guide, and he was fantastic.

A local man presumably enjoying the weather and the fact that he is avoiding the hustle and bustle of Moscow

I would be interested to hear what other less-famous and historical gems are worth visiting in Moscow? Please comment with your ideas.

And here is the Russian-language video version of our visit to Torzhok. Enjoy.

Moscow’s #1 Real Estate Online Platform Goes Public | CIAN Launches IPO.

CIAN is the online platform that offers nearly every available property in Moscow. If a property is available for sale or for rent in Moscow, there is a nearly 100% chance that it will be listed on CIAN. And now CIAN is offering an initial public offering in both New York and Moscow.

In a previous post, I detailed how to use CIAN to find an apartment in Moscow.

Reuters has done a fantastic job of explaining the nuts and bolts of the IPO. In this post, I would like to explain why I use CIAN with my Moscow real estate agency, and also talk about some of the other players in the Russia online real estate space.

There are certainly some juggernauts in the Russian online space. Avito is hands down, Russia’s largest online trade platform. This is the site you would use to buy and sell anything from used furniture to finding a guy with a truck who can help you move. It also offers real estate listings. According to the Russian business news site RBC, Avito has a market value of $4.9 billion. Avito attempted to buy CIAN recently, but that deal was blocked by the Federal Anti-monopoly service with the argument that they would then control more than 50% of the online real estate space.

The Russian real estate market has been white hot this past year, and CIAN is a central player.

The primary online Russian giant is, of course, Yandex. They aren’t just an online search engine like Google, or just a news aggregator. They have merged with Uber to control the booming taxi market, have their own car-sharing service, and also provide home grocery and restaurant delivery, to name a few. Yandex is a smart and powerful company, so when I heard that they were moving into the real estate space a few years ago, I assumed that this spelled the end for CIAN. I couldn’t have been more wrong. CIAN is continuing to raise the rates for posting properties on their site, and agencies and homeowners alike, are paying up.

Looking for an English-language Real Estate Service in Russia?

The other interesting player is Sber, formerly known as Sberbank, that is now successfully diversifying into areas outside of banking. Sber offers a platform where an owner can offer their property, the buyer can organize financing, and all of the legal matters are taken care of in the bank, thus making redundant much of what a realtor offers. With Sber’s muscles, I am also fascinated that they don’t seem to have much of a dent in CIAN’s business.

Avito, Yandex, and Sber are very much national names, used in nearly every nook and cranny around this vast nation. CIAN is more Moscow specific, which makes sense given the enormous economy of the capital city. In my view as a Moscow realtor, the key advantage CIAN has against its competitors is an easy-to use-platform with a strong accountability feature. If I’m looking at an ad on CIAN, I am almost 100% sure that the ad is real. On other platforms, I don’t have this confidence.

Can Foreigners Legally Own Real Estate In Russia?

It will be interesting to see the future of CIAN with the looming IPO, and with their reported plans for expansion around the nation. For Moscow realtors like me, we continue to see CIAN as THE central player in the online real estate scene in Moscow. And it will be fascinating to see what plays Avito, Yandex and Sber have up their sleeves.

And on a personal note, with all of these massive, smart, and nimble companies essentially removing the need for much of what realtors offer, I have seen many of my competitors close up shop. And I am inspired to provide more value than an online platform, through understanding of the local market, knowing what negotiation levers are available and providing comprehensive due diligence throughout the process.

What Will Happen To the US Embassy In Russia?

When a Russian journalist called me in the evening last week to ask what I thought about the US Embassy in Russia closing, I thought it was a joke, and I told him as much.

The idea of the US Embassy in Russia “closing” is an exaggeration to be sure, but there have been difficulties, even for US citizens over the past year.

For example, last spring, we wrote the US Consulate in Moscow that our 15-year old son’s passport was about to expire and that we needed to come in to renew it. We immediately received an automated message that the consulate was only receiving folks like us on an emergency basis and that we should basically give up on ever hoping to grace the premises of the US State Department’s headquarters in Moscow. My wife countered that disconcerting message with a somewhat drily worded dispatch: “A 15-year-old American will be living in Russia without a passport. What needs to happen to constitute an emergency?” To the consulate’s credit, we were in for an appointment about 2 weeks later.

American flag close-up on the beautiful historic building of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow Russia. I’ll never understand why it is perpetually twisted around the pole like this.

It was a strange visit. The State Department seemed to spare no expense when building the new consulate in Moscow. And the glass windows for receiving lines of Russians, eager to visit the “land of the free and the home of the brave” seemed to stretch into the horizon in the gleaming modern interior.

Unfortunately, the queues of eager visa-seekers could only be seen in my imagination, as the whole area was occupied by my wife, me, and an elderly gentleman who seemed to be somewhat lost. Of course, there was the usual security at the front gate with the (how do these people get these jobs?!?) outrageously crabby Russian guard.

When we knocked at one of the windows to announce our arrival, I could swear the echo went off to somewhere just shy of Kamchatka as I watched some tumbleweed blowing through the office in the back. Well, to be serious, it was very odd to see maybe 5 staff working in such a massive office complex.

Off-topic: I just made the mistake of looking up information on the new office building. It cost us $281 million USD, according to this page on the embassy site. On the positive side (if there is any), I have used this particular building as an argument to show my Russian friends that closing up visa service to Russia was most certainly not in the plans of the US State Department.

In any case, we were happy to get our son his passport, and the whole episode was quickly forgotten until I received the call from this Russian journalist.

I tried to diplomatically tell the journalist that he was full of baloney for even suggesting a closing of the US Embassy. He then asked me to say how a US Embassy closing in Russia would affect me hypothetically. And other than needing to renew passports every ten years, I couldn’t think of a single blessed effect on me.

You see, most embassies in Russia have some sort of relationship with their citizens who live locally, creating national holiday events, for example. But not the US Embassy. I’ve lived in Russia for nearly 23 years and can say, except for a dinner in Perm when the US ambassador visited about 20 years ago, the Embassy has made no effort to build a relationship. It’s sort of like the US State Department and Americans in Russia live in parallel universes, our paths never crossing, as we move through space and time. They do send out alarmist e-mails about the dangers of even thinking about Russia, but I unsubscribed from that list about 15 years ago. Too much stress and ado about nothing.

The Russian consulates are currently processing visas for Americans to come to Russia. Meanwhile, the State Department has given Russia “homeless status”, perhaps with the thought that this monicker would improve relations, and recommended that Russians apply for visas to America in Warsaw.

The situation isn’t simple and has to do with a limited number of allowed employees in some sort of squabble between our two nations that Bloomberg can explain better than I can. But it’s also sort of strange that it matters to Russians more than Americans living locally.

My thoughts on the matter, together with some of my fellow Americans’ (where do they find these guys lol?) views can be found here. The article is in Russian, but Google can help you with translation if you need it.

In my humble opinion, the relationship between our two countries has all too often been based on reciprocity, without one country or another taking the lead. That is why I find it refreshing that the Russian consulates are processing visas for Americans. That is good both for the Americans, and for Russia, as literally every American I have met in Russia has stated that it is way better than they had been told or thought before. That is soft power.

And here’s to us putting this spat behind us, and the US Embassy in Moscow returning to normal… at least for the next time one of my kids needs a passport.

4 Americans come to Russia for obscure medical treatment

You have probably never heard of inclusion body myositis. It is a rare condition that is described by the Cleveland Clinic as “an inflammatory and degenerative muscle disease that causes painless weakening of muscle”.

Inclusion body myositis (or IBM) is widely considered not just to be incurable, but untreatable. Receiving this diagnosis is discouraging, to say the least.

In a previous post, I wrote about the Lymphatech Clinic in the city of Perm, Russia that is providing treatment of conditions as wide-ranging as chronic leukemia, lymphedema, Type-2 diabetes, arthritis, and much more. The clinic’s treatment approach can be traced back to Soviet times, and is bringing promising results.

An American patient from El Paso, Texas, Alan Spencer heard about the clinic in early 2020. Alan had been diagnosed with IBM and when he heard about the Lymphatech Clinic, he approached them about potential treatment. The clinic offered a treatment plan and Alan came to Russia. This video by Russia Today tells that story.

Since IBM is a rare medical condition, it is a relatively small community of affected individuals and their families. So after the Russia Today broadcast, the clinic started receiving inquiries from around the world.

4 Inclusion Body Myositis Patients and their families in Perm, Russia

As an American who lives in Russia, I understand that for me, medical treatment in Russia is no stretch. As a matter of fact, it would be a challenge for me if I had to go anywhere else outside of Russia! And I have had the privilege of knowing the folks at Lymphatech as they treated some of my relatives from the States, and I even went for snoring treatment (it worked!).

But I can’t imagine what it would be like for someone in America to have been diagnosed with IBM and being told your only chance for treatment is to visit a place in Russia you’ve never heard before. As I’ve thought about that, I’ve come to understand that hope requires courage.

It is because of this that I’m proud to know both know this clinic and to have also met the four men in this video. Four men who not only had the courage to believe that it was worth pursuing treatment but were ready to take the risk to come to Russia to do so.

Take some time to learn what it’s like to travel to Russia for medical treatment and also find out about the Russian doctors’ point of view in this video:

If you are interested in a more detailed treatment explanation from the clinic, follow this link.

As a patriot both of Russia and the USA (yes, you can be both!), I firmly believe that we have much to learn from each other. As a friend of the clinic, I believe that their message of both science and hope must be known around the world. We don’t know everything yet. No one is saying they are providing a cure. But I love what each of these men said. Sitting around and waiting for a “silver bullet” wasn’t an option for any of them. So, they came to a clinic in Perm, Russia.

There is no Cow in Moscow |Correct Pronunciation

There is no Cow in Moscow

How do you pronounce Moscow?

What is the correct pronunciation of the word “Moscow”?

Yes, it’s time to address the cow in the room.

Of course, the Russian word for Moscow is not Moscow! It is Moskva (Москва).

Much like many other cities and nations around the world (Finland/Suomi, Hungary/Magyar, Albania/Shqipëri, etc.) the rest of the world seems to have made up its own name, rather than using the name of the locals.

But not so fast! The reason the rest of the world calls Moskva “Moscow” is because that’s actually pretty close to what it used to be called some centuries ago. And although the Russian capital city’s name evolved for itself over time, the rest of the world decided to stay traditional- although we have modernized ourselves to the point of calling the river running through the city the Moskva River.

But the question here is what is the correct pronunciation of the word “Moscow”.

And there is a right way and a wrong way.

And it’s not this confusing and somewhat amusing tutorial from YouTube. I mean the dude sounds a bit irritated during this 10-second video that the rest of the world is pronouncing it differently.:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flWvlmm6AqU0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen>

What we are talking about is the correct pronunciation of the English word for Moscow, Russia’s capital city.

The easy rule of thumb to remember when pronouncing this word is that “there is no cow in Moscow”.

A stock photo of a cow who is clearly not in Moscow

When people put a cow in Moscow, I normally stand and nod and smile like this lady:

“I mean, that’s wrong, but should I say something, or just be polite?”

Yes, I am saying there is a right and wrong way of pronouncing Moscow. And the correct way to pronounce Moscow is to take the cow out of it: “Mahskoh”.

And to help you remember, enjoy some timelapse scenes from one of the world’s most vibrant urban centers, with a soundtrack that, if you listen carefully, features both the correct Russian version of the city’s name (female voice), and the English version (male voice). The repetition of both language versions will help you remember! Enjoy and happy correct pronunciation to all, regardless of language!

American in Russian Village

How did the lockdown affect you?
Well, not long after the lockdown in the Moscow region was lifted, a good Russian friend invited me to the village about 75 miles north of Moscow that he and his family go to during the summer. We went to visit them and were told about pieces of land for sale in the village, and we also began to discuss the idea of starting a farm together.
The situation evolved quickly.
Here are some photos, which will end with a few more details:
Here this blogger, his wife, and two of their boys pose in front of the old house on the piece of village land we bought. (Taken from my Russian Instagram account).
You can go on a tour of the old house, in Russian, here.
Almost immediately after buying the old house a Moscow TV station came out to ask why on earth we would do something like that. 🙂   
Unfortunately, the house can not be restored (this is the back of it). But we do hope to use some of the material for a future banya (Russian bathhouse), perhaps a gazebo for picnics, and also a barn for sheep.
So, we built a new house. Electricity, heat, and water coming soon. 🙂
Although running water is a future item, the house came equipped with a view that hasn’t been difficult to get used to.
The land had been left unused for ten years, so it took this blogger about two weeks of work with a hand scythe and some help from friends to get it cleared.
A big sky and fantastic sunsets, that my phone’s camera doesn’t do justice to.
Some tools from the old house used as decoration in the new house.
Three ancient cities are within an hour drive, including this spot which Ivan the Terrible ruled from more than 400 years ago.
The closest store is about 6 miles from the village, so a “truck-store” comes 3 times a week, honks the horn, and everyone runs from their houses and gets in line. I’m thinking they need to try ice cream truck music instead of the horn.
For farming, we decided to start off with quail. Here are some eggs in the incubator.
And the first hatching!
And some newborns! They are much bigger now. We now have an incubator full of eggs, some that are growing, and a couple hundred that are getting close to harvest.
The quail have started their very own Instagram account.  Be sure to subscribe here.
We are bootstrapping, but we plan to add chickens, turkeys, and sheep in the coming months. Also, we are working on plans to acquire some more land and add some guest houses. Russians love to come out and relax in the village and we look forward to providing a family camp setting.
Of course, we were unsure how the village would receive us, but so far we have been blown away by how open and kind they have been. They are thrilled about new life coming to the village and the babushkas share zucchini and cucumbers from their gardens.
Here’s a Russian-language video I made about the village:

  More updates to come!  And we look forward to not only showing you photos and sharing news, but seeing you as our guest in the village.  

****   If you are a foreigner living in Russia, and are thinking perhaps not about the village, but of owning your own apartment or house, my day job remains real estate, and I would love to be able to help you out.  You can check out this post I wrote about Foreigners Owning Real Estate In Russia.

“Hitler’s Alligator” Dies in Moscow Zoo

Born in humble circumstances in 1936 in the state of Mississippi in the USA, Saturn the Alligator, was captured and sent that very same year to Berlin.

What happened next is the recipe for the urban legend that later embodied his personality in the Moscow Zoo.


Saturn the Alligator

In Berlin, Saturn was put on display in the zoo, and it is reported that Hitler loved the zoo, and specifically the alligators.

According to Saturn’s Wikipedia article, only 96 of the 16,000 animals in the Berlin Zoo survived the bombing at the end of the war.  Saturn was eventually taken in by British troops who later gave him as a gift to the Soviet Union.

The details of how Saturn arrived in Moscow are unknown due to the fact that a tourism office in Moscow burnt down in the 1950’s.  We also can only presume that these were difficult years for Saturn that he didn’t like to discuss, even in his later years.

Mississippi alligators generally only live into their forties, but Saturn apparently was living the dream at the Moscow Zoo, because he passed away on May 23, 2020 at the ripe old age of 84.

Here is a video of Saturn getting a bath.

TJ Journal quotes Moscow Zoo employees as saying “He saw many of us as children.  We hope that we have not disappointed him.”

Saturn was preceded in death by his first wife, Shipka.



Russia’s Formula for Coronavirus Easing

Russia is currently number two in the world for confirmed coronavirus cases. But with the statistics starting to show a welcome drop in new cases, it’s time to turn our attention to how Russia will begin to ease from the current “self-isolation” to life as usual.

Russia’s Rospotrebodnazor (fabulously translated on their own web-site as the Russian Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing) is largely responsible for this process.

What drew me to study the Rospotrebodnazor details was some comments by Moscow regional Governor Andrey Vorobyev, mentioning that the region was ready to begin the easing process because, “We create hospital beds every day, therefore, most likely, by all three indicators we will be ready (for the start of easing) by Monday.”

In the midst of the madness that the world has found itself in, I love a formula.  So, here are the three phases, and three key indicators to ease to each phase, according to this May 8th document from Rospotrebadnozor, with my best attempt at explaining them.  It is important to note that, given Russia’s enormous land area, this will be controlled and processed on a regional level.


It seems it will be a long time before we return to life with scenes like this from Red Square.  But there is a formula on how to move in that direction.

Phase 1:

In this first phase of easing, you are permitted to:

  • Exercise outside (until now prohibited), but not more than 2 people in one place, and they must be 5 meters apart.
  • You may walk outside (until now, also prohibited, unless you are walking to essential work, the grocery store, or a pharmacy), but not in groups of more than 2 people while maintaining social distancing.  During your walk, you must avoid “places of mass congregation”, including playgrounds.
  • Service-based businesses can re-open.  I’m unsure which services might qualify or not.
  • Non-grocery stores may open if they have their own separate entrance, if their space is 400 square meters or less, and if they can control that there is not more than one shopper in the store per 4 square meters.
  • What I do NOT see in Phase 1: Construction and manufacturing.  Both of these were re-instated in Moscow on May 12th, and my assumption is that they are considered pre-Phase 1.  Please correct me in the comments, if I’m wrong! 🙂

And now, perhaps more interesting, the criteria to enter Phase 1:

  • The Rt Index must not be greater than 1.  My understanding is that this means that one infected person must not infect more than one other person on average.
  • “Availability of free bed capacity at least 50% of the normative need for infectious beds.”  I understand this to mean that there needs to be a certain percentage of open hospital beds ready to treat COVID-19 patients.  This is why I found Governor Vorobyev’s comments to be interesting.  There certainly is the feeling that they are creating as many beds as possible in order to expedite the ability to enter Phase 1.
  • There must be a daily average of not less than 70 PCR tests per 100,000 population (taken over a 7-day average).


In Phase 2, you are permitted to:

  • Open stores of up to 800 square meters, provided there is a separate entrance and you control that there is not more than one customer per 4 square meters.  Street markets and points of sale may also open at this point.
  • Certain educational institutions will open.  The document does not specify which ones.

Phase-2 criteria:

  • The Rt Index must not be greater than 0.8.  My understanding is that this means that one infected person must not infect more than one other person on average.
  • “Availability of free bed capacity at least 50% of the normative need for infectious beds.”
  • There must be a daily average of not less than 90 PCR tests per 100,000 population (taken over a 7-day average).


In Phase-3, the restrictions are relaxed to:

  • All shopping centers are opened, with no restriction on the number of shoppers or floor space.
  • All public eateries are opened, with the restriction that tables must be 1.5-2 meters apart.
  • All educational institutions re-opened.
  • All hotels open.
  • Public “rest” areas: parks, squares, etc. re-opened.

During all phases:

  • People with health risk-factors and anyone 65 years of age or older must remain self-isolated.
  • Masks must be worn in all public spaces, including public transport.
  • Social distancing must be maintained (1.5 meters).
  • Upon re-opening, businesses and other organizations are required to hold health safety meetings with their employees.

My understanding is that if there is a degrading of the COVID-19 situation that there will be a return to full self-isolation or perhaps a step back in the phasing.

Most interesting is what appears to be a determination on the part of Governor Vorobyev to reach these criteria as quickly as possible through the enforcement of social distancing, health care, and continued increase in available hospital beds.


I am no expert in these area.  This is my attempt to cut through the coronavirus information overload and share my understanding of Russia’s formula for easing the current restrictions.  If you speak Russian and really want to geek out on the formula, you can either check out the document yourself or just take a quick look at the exact formula here:

Снимок экрана 2020-05-18 в 14.19.02 As always, be sure to use the comment section to let me know where I have made mistakes! 🙂

And most importantly, stay healthy!