Answers by the press office of the Permanent Mission of Russia to the EU to questions from EU Observer
Russia has a very low [coronavirus] infection figure (93), but is that because the quality of Rospotrebnadzor testing is not up to scratch?
As anywhere all over the world now, the situation around the new coronavirus in Russia, including statistics of the infected, changes rapidly. At the moment when I got your request [17 March, 15:40 CET] citing 93 cases, it was already more than 100 confirmed and officially declared cases. And this figure unfortunately, but objectively is about to increase at the current stage of the pandemic. Russian authorities including Rospotrebnadzor are mobilized to address this threat, as well as all related challenges, accordingly. All necessary resources are activated, all due measures elaborated and realised, and the whole situation across the country and abroad is constantly monitored, while the system of informing citizens has also been created (including through special web-site https://стопкоронавирус.рф).
Russia also maintains close contact with partners all over the world, including EU countries. That includes wide interaction of the whole range, from top political to purely technical levels. We believe that the principle of international solidarity in hard times should prevail over possible differences between countries despite their possible disagreements, be they of political, economic or other character. That definitely includes the information aspect in order to avoid mass panic and disinformation, and preventing unscrupulous stakeholders from earning political points by speculating on this global threat.
Could the Russian data be "vastly underestimated", as this article suggests? cf. https://meduza.io/en/feature/2020/03/06/why-are-there-so-few-reported-covid-19-cases-in-russia
I would not like to speculate. I believe that even qualified virologists or sociologists are not ready yet for a deep comprehensive analysis of the situation in Russia, in the EU or elsewhere in the world. The situation changes very fast. In fact, scientists have just started studying the new virus, and new data appears constantly. So the reasons why the officially confirmed number of those infected in Russia at this stage remains relatively low may be of a complex character (as one of the interviewees in the article you quote actually claims). But for sure such facts should not be a basis for developing conspiracy theories, making bets what country would be more or less successful in combating the common threat, sowing doubts or heating panic.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said yesterday: "Russia is on fire with coronavirus, but here it's calm". Was that just propaganda?
Please see comment by the Russian Government http://government.ru/en/news/39166/
The EUvsDisinfo unit in the EEAS has published a warning on Russian disinformation on coronavirus, saying: "pro-Kremlin outlets [are] pushing out all possible conspiracy theories, unfounded claims, and blatant lies". Is that really the case?
These kinds of cheapjack concoctions are not worth comment. Let it remain on the conscience of its authors, who seem to have crossed the reasonable boundaries in shouting “the Russians are coming!” and their attempts to label as “pro-Kremlin propaganda” all the media that abstain from blanket criticism of the Russian authorities, even if they adhere to opposite assessments on all other issues. We will leave evaluations of the quality of this “report” and the professional suitability of its authors to their curators from the European External Action Service, many of whom are highly likely to feel burning shame in this regard, as well as to European taxpayers – after all, this crew operates on their money.