Vladimir Putin has said Russia has handled its coronavirus outbreak better than the US, where he claimed “party interests” had hampered efforts to manage the pandemic.
The Russian president told state TV on Sunday the American response to the virus and recent anti-racism protests were signs of “deep-seated internal crises” in the country, which has recorded the highest overall death toll from Covid-19 in the world.
Mr Putin claimed his country was emerging from its epidemic with “minimal losses” – although the accuracy of government statistics in the country has been questioned.
Russia has the third-highest number of coronavirus infections in the world, with 528,964 confirmed cases, behind the US and Brazil, but has only recorded 6,948 deaths.
However, Alexei Venediktov, editor of the liberal Echo of Moscow radio station, reported on Tuesday that nearly six thousand more people died in Moscow during May than on average, putting Russia among the worst-hit countries in Europe.
In an interview with CNN this week, a Kremlin spokesperson said Russia’s low death toll was due to “effective” healthcare in the country but did not offer a clear explanation for what that meant.
“We are working rather smoothly and emerging from this situation with the coronavirus confidently and with minimal losses … but in the US that is not happening,” Mr Putin said in his interview with Russia-1.
He claimed his country had been more successful in managing the crisis because officials at federal and regional level had worked as one team without disagreements.
“I can’t imagine someone in the [Russian] government or regions saying we are not going to do what the government or president say,” he said.
“It seems to me that the problem [in the US] is that group, in this case party, interests are put above those of society as a whole, above the interests of the people.”
Mr Putin also criticised examples of violence at US anti-racism demonstrations, which have been predominantly peaceful, in recent weeks, while insisting he supported black Americans protesting over inequality.
“If this fight for natural rights, legal rights, turns into mayhem and rioting, I see nothing good for the country,” he said.