The newspapers published materials that mortality from coronavirus in Moscow and St. Petersburg can be 70% higher than official data.
The future of The Financial Times and The New York Times in Russia will depend on whether they publish a rebuttal of unreliable coronavirus death statistics in Russia, said Maria Zakharova, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman in Russia.
“Further steps on the FT and NYT will depend on whether they publish a rebuttal,” Zakharova told reporters, commenting on the call by State Duma deputies to consider steps on the FT and NYT until their accreditation in Russia is revoked.
Zakharova previously said that the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs would send letters to the publications demanding to refute the information they published about the death statistics from COVID-19 in Russia. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the publications of these newspapers “baseless speculations” and “another sensational anti-Russian fake.”
The Financial Times and The New York Times reported that coronavirus mortality in Moscow and St. Petersburg can be 70% higher than official statistics. In evidence was provided by the data of the authorities of the two cities, according to which the number of deaths from all causes in April 2020 is almost 2 thousand higher than in 2019.
In particular, The New York Times, citing data from the Moscow City Hall, wrote that in April this year, the capital registered more than 1.7 thousand more deaths than the average five-year figure for this month. Pointing out that the official death toll from coronavirus in Moscow in April amounted to 642 people, the authors conclude that the official mortality statistics from COVID-19 may be underestimated several times.
The Moscow Health Department also refuted these reports, noting that the comparison of total mortality rates in the monthly dynamics is incorrect and does not allow us to judge the trends. In addition, they stated that the diagnosis of COVID-19 is established by autopsy, the data of which are “extremely accurate.”
The State Duma appealed to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take measures to the FT and NYT, up to the deprivation of their accreditation in Russia.