In an exclusive interview with CNN, Peshkov said the virus had not created an internal political crisis for Russian President Vladimir Putin and that Russia’s healthcare system had saved lives despite severe pressure.
The pandemic was usually high-profile for Putin. An independent Levada-Center poll found that the Russian president’s ratings fell below 60% in April and May, levels not seen since he took office two decades ago – a drop rejected by Peshkov.
“We are concerned about this pandemic and we are concerned about the impact of this pandemic on the country’s economy,” Peshkov said on Tuesday. “But President Putin has said many times that he is not interested in his personal ratings, that in politics if you are a real politician, you should not think about your evaluations – because if you think about your evaluations, you will not be able to make responsible decisions. . ”
In March, Putin said the spread of the virus through Russia was “under control.” However, within a few weeks, Russia had the second highest number of coronavirus infections in the world – and the government was forced to postpone the referendum.
Asked what went wrong in Russia’s efforts to curb the virus, Peshkov said: “Nothing went wrong except for the corona itself. First, we have a lot of high-density cities. And these are the most polluted cities in the world. That is what happened to Moscow. ”
He also suggested that the high number of cases in the country reflects high levels of testing. “Our country is using the maximum possible number of corona tests. And the more you try, the more you locate,” he said.
Peshkov attributes low mortality rates to “effective” health care. “Have you ever considered making Russia’s healthcare system more efficient?” he added, adding that the public health system “gives more people the opportunity to stay alive”.
More than a hundred medical personnel have died so far, according to official figures. Healthcare workers, skeptical of government data, have gathered their own unofficial number of colleagues who died of the pandemic: more than 300. Even official reports in the state media admit that thousands of doctors are now working.
Peshkov expressed hope that the US presidential election in 2020 could be an opening for improved US-Russian relations and that the corona would provoke a global debate on how to handle future health crises. “We should all sit down and think of lessons from this pandemic for each country … [and] for the whole world, “he said.
He spoke to CNN on the day Moscow officially began locking up the coronavirus, allowing Muscovites to walk outside their homes without restrictions and travel to the city without electronic passages. And while thousands of new cases continue to be recorded daily, this step towards normalcy will eventually allow the Kremlin’s plans to move forward: the government has rescheduled the referendum on constitutional changes for July 1.