Russia announced an additional 8,764 new coronavirus cases Wednesday along with 135 additional deaths. That puts the total number of cases in the country just over 300,000 while the death toll is just shy of 3,000. But are those numbers accurate?
A Russian media outlet reported 186 healthcare workers have died from the disease. That represents about 7 percent of the total number of reported deaths. No other country in the world has a death rate of health professionals that is anywhere close to that.
The report was posted on May 19 by Mediazona, an online news outlet that covers human rights, legal news, and prison affairs in Russia.
It found the medical profession’s share of total deaths from COVID-19 was nearly 7%, or about one in every 15 fatalities. This was 16 times worse than a half-dozen countries with comparable numbers of COVID-19 cases, according to Mediazona…
The country with the next highest rate was Iran, with about 1.59% of healthcare workers dying from COVID-19, according to The Moscow Times. The analysis compared the situation to doctors dying the UK, the US, Italy, and Spain, all of which were below 1%.
The report concludes one of two things must be true. Either Russian doctors aren’t using PPE or Russia is lying about the numbers. Here’s a graph showing the difference, via Radio Free Europe.
Russia has been extremely sensitive about it’s official numbers. When the Financial Times reported that the actual death toll, estimated using excess deaths, could be 70% higher than the official tally, a Russia official suggested their press credentials should be revoked. Russia’s media regulator also asked Google to take down a Russian-language story based on the Financial Times story.
MBKh Media said it had received a message from Google a day earlier, saying that the request to block the article was based on the decision of the Prosecutor-General’s Office that claimed the article contained “calls for riots, extremist activities, [and] participation in mass public events held in violation of the established order.”
According to MBKh Media, which is hosted on the Google Cloud Platform, Google asked it to remove the article from its website or make it inaccessible in Russia.
And according to a report earlier this week there is reason to believe some regions of Russia are hiding a much higher percentage of deaths:
In a Sunday interview with local journalist Ruslan Kurbanov, Dagestan health minister Jamaludin Hajiyibragimov said at least 13,000 people have been infected and 657 have died from COVID-19 in his region so far.
These figures are more than 20 times higher than Russia’s official figures for the region, which are 3,371 infections and 29 deaths, according to Hajiyibragimov.
So there is lots of indirect evidence and some direct testimony to suggest Russia is doing what it always does in a crisis: Lying.