MOSCOW—Russians have been gossiping about Vladimir Putin’s well being from the very begin of the pandemic—and the Kremlin has all the time dismissed the flood of rumors as “absolute nonsense.” However on Monday, Putin struck a distinct tone because the president admitted that the most recent COVID-19 surge is threatening his personal inside “circle,” and that he could must quarantine because of this.
Talking at a public event at the Kremlin, Putin stated: “The issues with COVID-19 have even occurred even in my circle. We have to determine what is actually occurring. I feel I’ll quickly must quarantine. Lots of people are in poor health round me.” The president didn’t specify who in his circle had been contaminated.
The third COVID-19 wave in Russia has been notably brutal. Based on a authorities report launched final month, 215,000 Russians died of the virus in July, a 42-percent improve from the identical time interval final yr. However even contemplating the awful death toll, the assertion from the nation’s chief, recognized for his “macho” life-style, got here throughout as uniquely susceptible, stunning journalists who’ve been protecting Putin for many years.
“At a most, what now we have confirmed [in the past] are his sports activities traumas, broken foot or again,” Pavel Lobkov, a veteran Russian tv journalist, instructed The Day by day Beast. “I bear in mind throughout his first time period in 2001 to 2004, Putin principally drank beer from the identical cup as us reporters from the Kremlin’s pool. He was by no means germophobic, like [former Romanian dictator] Nicolae Ceaușescu, who washed his palms in alcohol after each handshake.”
Russians are paying a heavy value for the nation’s basic fatalism. The Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is sweeping the nation, killing hundreds. Making issues worse is the truth that Russians are nonetheless skeptical in regards to the state’s registered vaccines; solely 31 percent of Russia’s 144 million folks have been vaccinated. Putin obtained his Sputnik V anti-COVID shot within the spring. “I can say that our vaccine actually exhibits outcomes,” he said on the time.
“Whereas Russians die like flies, the Kremlin hides Putin in some underground cave.”
A number of of the Kremlin’s prime officers, together with Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, had been contaminated with the virus within the early months of the pandemic final yr. By way of all of it, the Kremlin would usually boast in regards to the president’s “excellent well being” and the “disinfection tunnels”’ at his residence at Novo-Ogaryovo, in Moscow’s outskirts. Everyone visiting the president should move by way of the tunnels, that are outfitted with facial recognition expertise and check guests’ physique temperature, in line with the RIA state information company, which has revealed what it says is video footage of the tunnels.
Putin has additionally spent a substantial period of time through the pandemic hidden away at his seaside home within the Black Sea resort metropolis of Sochi. Final yr, a Russian investigative information outlet, Proect, reported that Putin had arrange an identical workplaces in each of his residences for tv addresses, in order that Russians wouldn’t know if the president was in Moscow or in his home on the seaside.
In September 2020, The Day by day Beast interviewed a number of resort house owners and taxi drivers within the mountains of Altai, a good looking area bordering Central Asia. On the time, rumors that Putin had been spending weeks on the Gazprom residence within the Republic of Altai had been swirling. “Whereas Russians die like flies, the Kremlin hides Putin in some underground cave,” Leonid Zaitsev, a neighborhood taxi driver and information, instructed The Day by day Beast on the time.
Since then, the virus has continued to unfold by way of Russia’s parliament, infecting and re-infecting deputies within the decrease and higher chambers. By December 2020, out of 11 contaminated deputies, not less than 5 MPs had examined constructive for a second time, according to State Duma Speaker Vladimir Volodin.
Quick-forward to June of this yr, when Moscow beat its personal pandemic report, recording 9,120 new cases of COVID-19.
Discussing what particular precautions are being taken to guard the president from the virus, the Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said in July: “You realize that within the course of of labor some folks may contact sick folks, a number of the President’s interlocutors might have just lately been sick.” Peskov added that Putin’s guests undergo “very thorough testing.” Nonetheless, the state of affairs was “removed from regular,” Peskov admitted.
However there are sometimes underlying motives to such statements from Putin and his mouthpiece.
Sergei Markov, a pro-Kremlin analyst, supplied up his interpretation of the president’s latest remarks to The Day by day Beast: “The President talked in regards to the quarantine to arrange Russians for compelled vaccinations,” Markov stated. “The compulsory vaccination will start proper after the parliamentary elections this week.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/vladimir-putins-anti-covid-self-preservation-bunker-is-a-bust?supply=articles&through=rss | Vladimir Putin’s Anti-COVID Self-Preservation Bunker Is a Bust