Kremlin: Putin in Peak Health, Won’t Say if Tested for Coronavirus

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a speech during an awards ceremony for those who led the construction of the 19 kilometres (12 miles) road and rail Crimean Bridge over the Kerch Strait - that links mainland Russia to Moscow-annexed Crimea - in Sevastopol, Crimea, on March 18, 2020. (Photo by …

The Kremlin stated on Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin remains in peak physical condition, as evidenced by his heavy workload.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to confirm or deny whether Putin has been tested for the Wuhan coronavirus.

“The public work schedule of the president itself testifies in the best way to his state of health. All that is necessary to protect the president against the viruses and other diseases is being done round-the-clock,” Peskov told a press conference on Wednesday.

Russia’s state-run Tass news service noted four significant events on Putin’s schedule for Tuesday and a trip to Crimea for several events on Wednesday and Thursday, suggesting a busy agenda that would be difficult to keep if Putin were sick with the coronavirus or quarantined due to asymptomatic infection.

Putin himself said on Tuesday the coronavirus is “generally under control despite a high-risk level.”

“We were able to contain the penetration and spread,” he said after touring a coronavirus information center in Moscow.

Russia has thus far reported very few cases of coronavirus infection following a rather dramatic effort to quarantine Russians evacuated from China’s Hubei province, epicenter of the outbreak, to a secure facility in Siberia. Russia reported only 114 total infections as of Wednesday. As with other authoritarian governments, including China, outside observers suspect these numbers may not be accurate.

The European Union (EU) is quite exercised about inaccurate coronavirus information flowing out of Russia, as CNN reported on Wednesday:

The European Union’s External Action Service, which researches and combats disinformation online, said in an internal report that since January 22 it had recorded nearly 80 cases of disinformation about the Covid-19 outbreak linked to pro-Kremlin media.

“The overarching aim of Kremlin disinformation is to aggravate the public health crisis in Western countries, specifically by undermining public trust in national healthcare systems – thus preventing an effective response to the outbreak,” according to the report.

The report, dated March 16th, said that the campaign is “designed to exacerbate confusion, panic, and fear.” The report outlines how pro-Kremlin media have been working to amplify an array of often contradictory narratives which “hijack” the information space in order to diminish Europe’s ability to act in its self-interest.

The EU report said some of the disinformation coming from Russia since late January appears designed to “amplify Iranian accusations online, cited without evidence, that coronavirus was a U.S. biological weapon.” The Chinese Communist Party is pushing similar conspiracy theories to distract from its role in unleashing the coronavirus epidemic.

Other disinformation traced back to Russia by the EU exaggerated the number of coronavirus cases in Ukraine, which has long been fighting an insurgency backed by Russia, and sought to portray the EU as completely overwhelmed by the pandemic.

The EU said Moscow is “playing with people’s lives” by spreading false coronavirus information and asked American tech companies to intervene.

Asked about the EU complaint by reporters on Wednesday, Peskov denounced the allegations as “unfounded.”

“This kind of Russophobic obsession should somehow be going away given the current situation, ideally, but apparently it isn’t,” he grumbled.


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