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Coronavirus

Russia’s COVID-19 Caseload Surpassed 500,000 on Thursday

MOSCOW — Russia’s coronavirus caseload surpassed 500,000 on Thursday, after health officials reported 8,779 new infections.

The nation’s total currently stands at 502,436 confirmed cases, including 6,532 deaths.

Experts both in Russia and abroad expressed doubts about the country’s remarkably low pandemic death toll, with some alleging that numbers were manipulated for political reasons. The Russian government repeatedly denied the allegations.

Despite recording almost 9,000 new cases daily for the past month, Russian authorities have started easing lockdown restrictions in many regions — including Moscow, which accounts for about 40% of all virus cases and almost half of officially reported deaths.

This week the Moscow mayor lifted the stay-at-home order in place since late March, allowing residents to travel freely around the city, and gave a green light for a wide range of businesses — such as beauty parlors, restaurants and museums — to reopen in the next two weeks.

Kremlin critics condemn the reopening as premature and link them to the vote on the constitutional reform that would allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036, scheduled for July 1.

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