In New Year’s speech, Putin urges unity as second coronavirus wave batters Russia
President Vladimir Putin in his New Year’s speech on Thursday urged Russians to unite in the face of the country’s battle with the coronavirus pandemic.
For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page.
Appearing in front of the Kremlin for an address to be broadcast just before midnight in each of Russia’s 11 time zones, Putin acknowledged that a second wave of infections is continuing to batter the country.
For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app
“Unfortunately the epidemic has not yet been completely stopped. The fight against it does not stop for a minute,” he said on state-run channel Rossiya 1, which broadcast the speech at midnight in Russia’s Far East (1200 GMT).
The president, who wore a black coat over a white shirt with a red tie, added that many medical workers would be “on duty this festive night” and called on everyone else “not to retreat in the face of difficulties, to preserve our unity.”
Russia’s Putin will receive Sputnik V vaccine: Kremlin
Coronavirus: Russia vaccinated over 100,000 with its Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine
Russia's Putin in G20: Ready to provide our coronavirus vaccine to countries in need
The longtime Russian leader said in his 17th New Year’s address he was convinced that together Russians could “overcome everything” and “restore normal life.”
Unlike many European countries, Russia avoided reimposing the kind of strict nationwide lockdown it introduced this spring in the hopes of supporting a struggling economy.
While some major cities have reduced in-office workers and obliged bars and restaurants to close early, most regions have limited restrictions to reducing mass gatherings and requiring mask-wearing in public places.
But many Russians flout social distancing guidelines and fatalities from Covid-19 have ticked up in recent weeks.
Moscow, one of the country’s epicenters, saw virus-related deaths rise from 1,569 in September to 3,573 in October to 4,542 in November.
Officials this week also confirmed that the nationwide death toll from the virus is three times higher than previously reported.
But with approval ratings for Putin’s United Russia party waning ahead of key parliamentary elections next year, Russia hopes to avoid shutting down its economy.
Instead it has bet on a mass vaccination program using its homemade Sputnik V shot to reel in the outbreak.
But with Russians deeply sceptical of getting the jab, rollout has been slow.
In Moscow just 50,000 people have so far been inoculated, as several recent polls showed that only 38 percent of Russians plan on getting the vaccine.
Coronavirus: Hungary receives 6,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccineHungary has received 6,000 doses of Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on his Facebook page on Monday, though it was ... Coronavirus
EU’s Borrell accuses Russia of spreading COVID-19 disinformation to sell its vaccineThe European Union’s top diplomat said on Monday that Russian public media had spread false information on European and American COVID-19 vaccines in ... Coronavirus
Coronavirus: Russia reports nearly 26,000 virus-related deaths in NovemberRussia on Monday said that nearly 26,000 people had died from coronavirus in November and more than 186,000 since the start of the year, a much ... Coronavirus
Russia’s Putin will receive Sputnik V vaccine: KremlinRussia’s president Vladimir Putin will receive the Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a Russian state TV ... Coronavirus