Russian President Vladimir Putin has acknowledged the influence of the coronavirus, suspending a referendum that would have prolonged his time period in workplace and ordering Russians to not go to work subsequent week.
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
Russian President Vladimir Putin introduced a step-up in how his nation ought to reply to the coronavirus. In a televised tackle at present, he ordered Russia to take subsequent week off from work. Putin additionally known as for the postponement of an upcoming referendum on adjustments to the structure – adjustments that would come with extending his time period in workplace. For the newest on how the pandemic is unfolding in Russia, we’re joined now by reporter Charles Maynes in Moscow.
CHARLES MAYNES, BYLINE: Hello there.
CHANG: So on this newest tackle, how did Putin characterize the menace to Russia from the coronavirus?
MAYNES: Nicely, you realize, he stated this was one thing that Russians could not count on the federal government to maintain at bay, that already affected many of the world and was more and more a hazard at house. It’s a must to take into account that Russia now has over 650 circumstances – that is, in fact, far lower than different nations however a giant spike right here simply previously week alone. Now, what does that imply? It signifies that Putin stated this implies they will postpone the constitutional vote. This was a key modification of which might enable Putin to remain in energy past his present time period and into the subsequent decade. He made it clear he wasn’t comfortable about it. However clearly, this was a transfer that they felt they could not, you realize, go ahead with as a result of the issue was they should get the vote out, and you’ll’t do this while you’re encouraging folks to remain house.
When you go to the remainder of his message at present, he was saying, you realize, look; we wish folks to take per week off of labor. Keep house in case you can. Then there are numerous measures simply mainly centered on saving the financial system – propping up small enterprise – mid-sized enterprise, giving Russians a break from taxes, debt aid, issues like that.
CHANG: OK, so positively expressing some concern – is not this kind of a shift in tone, although, from Putin? I imply, up till now, it appeared just like the Kremlin had been downplaying the disaster.
MAYNES: Yeah, it was. I imply, Putin stated simply final week the virus was beneath management, largely on account of good insurance policies and early testing. Simply take into account that yesterday, Putin was really at a contagion ward, carrying this yellow hazmat swimsuit in entrance of cameras – it was type of a PR occasion – and praising the Russian response as going like clockwork and saying, you realize, that is the way in which issues ought to work. However typically, you realize, circumstances in Russia have been introduced as coming from abroad, that they had been both Chinese language nationals or Russians who’re vacationing in Italy who had introduced it again – so positively a change right here.
CHANG: Nonetheless, although, these latest restrictions that we’re seeing in Russia now, like, do not go to work subsequent week – they do not appear as rigorous because the lockdowns in different methods every day life has reworked in different nations in Europe.
MAYNES: You already know, they don’t seem to be. There’s nonetheless – there’s not a ban on, say, going outdoors. You already know, however life has modified right here. I imply, faculties have been closed for – are closed, now, for the subsequent few weeks. Companies have been inspired to have workers that earn a living from home. We have seen, you realize, folks on house quarantine who’re over the age of 65. That is one other measure that went into play this week. And I ought to add that additionally, those that arrived from abroad from coronavirus hotspots, together with the U.S., are beneath house quarantine. That features me. I am on Day 7. You already know, and we have additionally seen the Duma toughening all these penalties towards those that violate any of those quarantine guidelines. So you’ll be able to spend a big time in jail – as much as seven years – in case you’re caught violating this.
CHANG: And the way a lot do you suppose particular person Russians there consider what the federal government is telling them about how they’re dealing with the pandemic? I imply, do you get the sense that they are assured Russia has the well being services and the medical tools to deal with every part?
MAYNES: Nicely, it is all the time been a kind of split-screen actuality. On the one hand, the federal government’s saying, we’re in cost, and we have this. Then again, I feel it is truthful to say that there is a basic deep mistrust of what the federal government tells them. So there’s been numerous skepticism over an infection charges, concerning the high quality of testing, about even how these diagnoses are being given out. So for instance, there are tales of medical doctors being pressured to diagnose COVID-19 is pneumonia or flu to maintain the charges down. So I feel there is a sense now that the virus is much extra widespread, and that is a part of what Putin appeared to acknowledge at present.
CHANG: Reporter Charles Maynes in Moscow, thanks very a lot.
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