14 May 2020 09:15

Future of FT, NYT in Russia to depend on whether they retract Russia Covid-19 death toll articles - Foreign Ministry

MOSCOW. May 14 (Interfax) - The further work of the Financial Times (FT) and New York Times (NYT) newspapers in Russia will depend on whether these outlets publish a retraction of the inaccurate information earlier given by them about the coronavirus death toll in Russia, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said.

"Further steps in relation to FT and NYT will depend on whether they publish a retraction," Zakharova told reporters when commenting on Russian State Duma members' call to consider steps in relation to the abovementioned media outlets, including even the possible cancellation of their accreditation in Russia.

Zakharova said earlier that the Russian Foreign Ministry would send letters to the Financial Times and New York Times newspapers to demand their retraction of publications regarding the number of Covid-19 deaths in Russia.

The ministry also called these articles, which claim that "the Russian government is underreporting the number of deaths from the new coronavirus infection," groundless speculation and "another sensational anti-Russian fake."

FT and NYT said in their articles that the actual death toll from Covid-19 in Moscow and St. Petersburg could be 70% higher than the official figures. To prove their assertions, the media outlets citied data from the two cities' authorities that showed that the number of deaths from all causes in April 2020 was almost 2,000 higher than in April 2019.

The Moscow Health Department, for its part, denied these reports, saying that it is inappropriate to compare overall mortality rates on a month-on-month basis, and this does not help draw conclusions on tendencies. Besides, Covid-19 diagnosis is established as a result of an autopsy, the data of which is "exceptionally accurate".

The State Duma asked the Russian Foreign Ministry to take measures in relation to FT and NYT, which could include even steps to strip these media outlets of their accreditation in Russia.