Moscow Slams FT, NYT Reports on Russian COVID-19 Death Toll

Russia’s Foreign Ministry will send letters to the Financial Times and New York Times demanding they retract reports claiming the actual death toll from Covid-19 in the country is much higher than the official figures.

The editors-in-chief of the outlets concerned will be given the letters on Thursday by the Russian embassies in London and Washington, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said during a briefing, RT reports.

Moscow will also address the UN, OSCE and UNESCO on the situation, as the reports in the FT and NYT represent “an example of that very ‘information war’ that the UN General Secretary, Antonio Guterres, urged everybody to tackle.”

Disinformation campaigns are as dangerous for humanity as the virus itself, the UN chief warned in late April, saying that the period of the pandemic was a time to promote facts, not spread “despair and division.”

Earlier, a parliamentary commission on meddling in Russia’s internal affairs warned that the publication of these stories may well see the two outlets losing their accreditation in Russia altogether.

The Financial Times and New York Times both published articles on Monday claiming that the Covid-19 death toll in Russia could be 70 percent higher than the official figure, which now stands at 2,212 people.

In their report, the New York Times cited independent demographer, Aleksei Raksha, who got his numbers by interpreting official data released by the Moscow authorities. The man, who is a TV personality in Russia, isn’t affiliated with any official body or research institute.