The Kremlin has imposed a mandatory two-week quarantine for anyone scheduled to meet President Vladimir Putin in person, the Proekt investigative website reported Wednesday.
Putin, 67, has held most of his meetings via videoconference since the start of the pandemic, which has affected several high-ranking government officials including his spokesman and prime minister. As restrictions have been gradually lifted this summer, Putin met a growing number of officials in person and has at least once ventured out of his residence near Moscow.
“Everyone, regardless of regalia or age, has to serve a very strict two-week quarantine to get close to the head of state,” Proekt wrote, citing unnamed sources.
The subjects are reportedly required to await Covid-19 test results in strict isolation at either a Sochi resort or a government dacha in Moscow. If the test comes back negative, Proekt reports they are allowed to roam the premises outside their rooms.
The outlet listed some Kremlin officials, journalists and photographers covering Putin’s day-to-day activities and 30 key nuclear industry employees who quarantined in Sochi.
The CEO of the state-owned Gazprom gas giant, the chairman of the state aerospace and defense corporation who met Putin in early August and many others were reportedly offered a choice of location to quarantine.
Those who don’t quarantine either interact with Putin at a considerable distance or via videoconference, Proekt reported.
“No other Western country has reported the need to quarantine the visitors of heads of state, let alone close off top officials from journalists,” Proekt wrote.
The Kremlin said in response to the report that quarantine requirements depend on the coronavirus situation within the officials’ own agencies.
Proekt also reported that well-connected members of Russia’s elite were able to receive the country's highly touted coronavirus vaccine long before it received official registration last month. It also reported that several state company managers allegedly coerced their employees to vaccinate while the adenoviral vector-based shots underwent clinical trials.
Putin was reported to have promised South Korean President Moon Jae-in in a recent phone call that he would visit Seoul as soon as he receives the Sputnik V vaccine.
Russia has officially confirmed more than 1.17 million coronavirus infections, the world’s fourth-highest number of cases, with the daily caseload hitting three-month highs in recent days.