- Anna Pushkarskaia, Pavel Aksenov and Petr Kozlov
- BBC Russia
From the very beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the Russian authorities have done everything possible to protect President Vladimir Putin from infection. But how do you organize a Kremlin-style quarantine and how much has it cost?
Over the past year, hundreds of people have had to quarantine themselves in Russia, before being close to Vladimir Putin. Some had to isolate themselves even if they were not in direct contact with the presidentBut as a precaution because they were in contact with other people who were planning to meet with him.
On March 25, 2020, President Putin addressed the nation and announced that April 1 would mark the beginning of a “non-working week,” as the coronavirus spread rapidly in Russia.
Later, in April, a complete lockdown was introduced with the closure of non-essential stores and a ban on mass gatherings, while a large proportion of the population began working from home.
At the same time, 60 members of the special flight crew of Rossiya Airline, in the service of President Putin and other senior Russian government officials, were quarantined for the first time on March 26, 2020 at a hotel not far from Moscow.
Since then, hundreds of pilots, medics, drivers and other support personnel, as well as visitors to the leader, have spent time in quarantine in a dozen hotels across Russia to protect President Putin from infection.
Recently, it was reported that the president received a vaccine developed in Russia, although it has not been specified which one, but contracts with several “quarantine” hotels appear to be in force well into next year.
The BBC’s Russian service has calculated that the Directorate of the President of the Russian Federation, an executive body responsible for the smooth running of the presidential team, received from the state budget unos US$84 million for measures to combat the pandemic.
The Kremlin hotels
The Russian BBC service has found that, at least, 12 hotelshave been used for Kremlin quarantines. These accommodation venues are located in Moscow and its surrounding region, annexed Crimea, as well as in a location not far from the southern city of Sochi, the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics and one of the world’s favorite venues. President Putin.
En the quarantine list nor there were private hotels– All places where visitors and service personnel spent time belong to the Presidential Directorate. Some of the reservations are made until March 2022.
Members of Rossiya’s flight crew appear to be the main occupants of these hotels. The crew serves officials, including President Vladimir Putin himself, as well as Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and eight other cabinet ministers.
The BBC’s Russian service learned that President Putin spent much of the past year working from his Sochi residence.
A source familiar with the conditions of the quarantine said that dozens of pilots and other air personnel had to be placed in lockdown near Sochi to provide transportation for the president, as well as for the prime minister, the foreign minister and many others. Among those who were quarantined were airplane and helicopter pilots.
Confined to see Putin
The 75th anniversary of the Allied victory in World War II should have been an important celebration in Russia.
The memory of that war and the role of Russia in the defeat of Nazism are key parts of the patriotic narrative of the Putin government. The celebration would have taken place in Red Square on May 9, Russia’s Victory Day.
Instead, the commemoration was moved to June 24, 2020 and held on a much smaller scale, although it still included a military parade. War veterans and celebrities shook hands with President Putin and received awards to mark the anniversary.
Bloomberg reported that before meeting face-to-face with the president, More than 200 people, including 80 war veterans between the ages of 80 and 90, had to get into comnification During two weeks.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed before the June parade that “a group of veterans” were in quarantine “in excellent condition”, although he stressed that this was done as a precaution for their good.
Russian state news agencies TASS and RIA-Novosti published identical stories, describing how “one of Moscow’s hotels” had been equipped for the quarantine of some 20 journalists.
They stayed in individual rooms, leaving them alone while they cleaned them. They could not talk to each other face to face and could only communicate virtually.
They were not allowed to smoke or drink alcohol. The packages and parcels they received from outside the quarantine hotel were only delivered to them after being inspected and disinfected.
Reporters in isolation were fed three times a day, leaving their food and drinks outside their rooms, along with disposable cutlery. Anyone who came into contact with them wore suits personal protection complete.
There were also reports of regional government officials isolating themselves prior to President Putin’s visits. For example, in the city of Sarov, in the Nizhny Novgorod region, local authorities allocated US $ 13,000 for measures “aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus infection during the visit of the President of the Russian Federation.”
The Russian BBC service learned that around 20 members of the Sarov local administration staff were isolated in a pension for war veterans. The expenses of his stay included wooden “walnut” beds, bedding sets, an iron and four security safes.
The BBC asked the Kremlin spokesman about the wide-ranging and comprehensive precautions taken to protect President Putin and whether, to his knowledge, other countries had similar practices in place. Dmitry Peskov declined to comment.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.