Over the months that the world is experiencing the coronavirus pandemic, US President Donald Trump kept a busy schedule. President Trump would go to public events and campaign rallies in contrast with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, who instead lived in a bubble.
“Donald Trump” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
For most months of the pandemic, the Russian President has been following strict work from home schedule where he runs the affairs of the state mostly through videoconferencing.
The Kremlin has also taken extreme measures to ensure the health of the Russian President, who has been running Russia for two decades.
According to the Russian President’s press office, during the pandemic, Putin stayed primarily in his residence outside Moscow, Novo-Ogaryovo. Also, as early as April, Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesperson, already made it clear that new measures will be put in place to protect the Russian President. Thus, according to him, everyone who will be meeting Putin would have to undergo COVID-19 tests, and all appointments with the President have to be held with social distancing in place.
To add more defense against the spread of the virus, the Kremlin went even farther than just social distancing and COVID-19 tests. In June, the Kremlin spokesperson also confirmed that they installed special disinfectant tunnels going inside the Kremlin and at President Putin’s primary residence in Novo-Ogaryovo.
“Vladimir Putin – World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2009” by World Economic Forum is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
In the same month, President Putin went ahead and held a postponed Victory Day parade amidst the pandemic. However, as a precaution, dozens of the World War II veterans who sat next to Putin on the stands were asked to quarantine for two weeks.
Recently, a Russian investigative news outlet documented these extensive precautions that even a brief photo opportunity will require the visitor to undergo a strict two-week quarantine regardless of their status. May it be a group of scientists who were awarded a medal and a handshake, or a top manager of a state gas company, everyone had to follow the protocol.
Proekt also reported that the staff closest to President Putin, including his speechwriters, secretaries, and personal photographers, were split into two groups; one in Sochi and the other in Moscow. All of the people who composed these groups had to quarantine for two weeks in a nearby health resort and had to undergo extensive testing. This limited public events and virtually no press availability since the start of the pandemic forced most loyal state reporters to report from home. Even the Kremlin press pool has been significantly reduced in numbers.
Further, the coronavirus’s media coverage was also affected as most journalists were essentially prevented from getting access to the Russian President.
On a very exceptional occasion where Putin had to attend a mass event, the footage showed a good ten meters of social distancing between the President and everyone else. Concerns about the health of the President of Russia are legitimate. In all accounts, Putin is in good health and is known for his vigorous physical exercise routines. However, at 67 years old, he is already at high risk of contracting the virus, and any serious illness for him could set off a full-blown political crisis in Russia.
During the pandemic, the Russian President has scored high geopolitical points. Back in the spring, even with the infection rate climbing in Russia, the Russian government continues to send shipments of medical supplies to help American hospitals fight the virus. This medical shipment includes ventilators and personal protective equipment.
Recently, Putin also announced that Russia is trying to push the coronavirus vaccine approval as Russian officials are hoping to get back to business with the vaccine’s help.
In fact, Putin revealed that one of his daughters took the vaccine during the trials even before it was registered in Russia.
Putin has already sent a telegram to President Trump and first lady Melania Trump, wishing them both a speedy recovery. To quote, Putin said, “I am sure that your inherent vitality, good spirits, and optimism will help you cope with the dangerous virus,”