Russia slams New York Times, Financial Times on virus deaths

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Following the Foreign Ministry statement, lawmaker Vasily Piskaryov demanded that reporters from the newspapers be stripped of their accreditation, effectively banning them from working in the country.

Zakharova said measures against the media organizations “will depend on whether they run the retraction.”

Last month, Russian lawmakers approved fines of up to $25,000 and prison terms of up to five years for anyone who spreads what is deemed to be false information during the outbreak. Under the measure, media outlets could be fined up to $127,000 for disseminating disinformation about the virus.

On Wednesday, Moscow’s health department rejected the allegations of undercounting coronavirus deaths. Officials said autopsies are being conducted in all suspected coronavirus deaths.

“That’s why post-mortem diagnoses in Moscow and causes of death, in the end, are exceedingly accurate, and the mortality data absolutely transparent,” the statement said.

More than 60% of deaths of people with coronavirus in Moscow were ascribed to other causes, such as cardiovascular ailments, cancer, diseases involving organ failures and other illnesses, according to the statement.

Guidelines on reporting coronavirus deaths, issued by the World Health Organization in mid-April, state that “deaths due to COVID-19” should be considered as such “unless there is a clear alternative cause of death that cannot be related to COVID disease.”

© 2020 AP News

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