‘We need joint action, not fake news’: Moscow slams HRW chief for touting story on Russia’s rich grabbing life-saving ventilators
Russia’s top diplomat in the US has demanded the Human Rights Watch chief stops spreading misinformation about Russia’s readiness to fight Covid-19, after he touted an article claiming it’s letting the wealthy buy up ventilators.
Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s envoy in Washington, has penned a scathing rebuke to the group’s executive director, Kenneth Roth, who tweeted that the Kremlin was “doing nothing to stop wealthy Russians from buying up ventilators,” all that while “leaving ordinary Russians with a likely shortage of this life-saving equipment.”
Putin's government is doing nothing to stop wealthy Russians from buying up ventilators and setting up private clinics in their homes in case they catch COVID-19, leaving ordinary Russians with a likely shortage of this life-saving equipment. https://t.co/NrXfgTiawc— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) March 23, 2020
Roth’s tweet was based on a report by the Moscow Times citing interviews with medical experts and anonymous “wealthy individuals,” said to be on the hunt for the coveted ventilators that help coronavirus-stricken patients breathe.
Although the article itself states that “Russia appears to be in a better starting position than other countries when it comes to ventilators,” with 5,000 devices ready to treat Covid-19 patients in state-run Moscow hospitals alone and “an average of about 29 ventilators per 100,000 residents” available nationwide (as opposed to Italy’s 8 per 100,000), the piece mentions that the majority of life-saving medical equipment is concentrated in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
While that might prompt some concern, in reality, more than half of Russia’s 438 Covid-19 cases (262) have been reported in the capital, which is at the center of the country’s fight against the disease.
Firing back, Antonov said that Russia, which has so far been successful in containing the spread of the virus, has put “well-timed measures” in place that allowed it “to confront this new global threat far more effectively than in the countries that HRW generally avoids criticizing.”
We urge the executive director of Human Rights Watch not to misinform his readers in New York and around the world about the activities of the Russian government in the fight against coronavirus infection.
Antonov suggested that, instead of promoting “fake news” and inciting xenophobia and Russophobia, politicians and public figures in the US focus on pooling efforts with the rest of the international community to fend off the pandemic.
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Today, more than ever, the combined efforts of the international community are important… Saving lives is the top priority now.
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