the coronavirus crisis
After preaching calm, the Kremlin sounds like it's ready to take the coronavirus pandemic a lot more seriously, The Guardian reports.
There was a healthy amount of skepticism over the low coronavirus numbers Russia had been reporting in recent weeks, which seems to have been validated after Russian President Vladimir Putin changed his tune Wednesday, delaying a public vote (which was mostly a formality) on constitutional amendments that will allow him to remain in power until 2036, requesting people to remain at home, and announcing a week-long holiday during which workers will receive their salaries.
Moscow's Mayor Sergei Sobyanin told Putin on Tuesday that the government was underestimating the number of coronavirus cases in the country, arguing "a serious situation is developing" and Russia's health care system could be overwhelmed as the spread accelerates. Before that the Kremlin's message was mainly to avoid panic.
The Russian parliament is reportedly prepared to get tough if they have to, as well. Parliament said Wednesday it will review legislation that could put quarantine breakers in prison for anywhere between three and seven years, while anyone found guilty of infecting others could face terrorism charges. Read more at The Guardian.