MOSCOW, May 13. /TASS/. Further measures against the New York Times and the Financial Times will depend on whether they publish refutation of their allegation about underreporting coronavirus mortality statistics in Russia or not, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told TASS on Wednesday.
"Further steps in respect of FT and NYT will depend on whether they publish refutation or not," she said.
Earlier in the day, she told Solovyov Live on YouTube that lawmakers from the Russian State Duma lower parliament house had asked the foreign ministry to take measures against the news outlets that published false information, up to stripping their journalists of accreditation in Russia. "Obviously, it is an extreme measure. This is not our method to deprive accreditation, to expel journalists or any other repressive measures. We opt to respond, first of all, verbally and back our words by deeds, by concrete steps," she said.
According to Zakharova, the Russian foreign ministry would send letters to the Financial Times and the New York Times demanding they publish refutation. Apart from that, in her words, the Russian foreign ministry will refer corresponding appeals to OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir and UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay.
The London-based Financial Times newspaper wrote earlier that "Russia’s national death toll from coronavirus could be 70% higher than the government’s official data show." World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Russia Melita Vujnovic told the Rossiya-24 TV channel that there was no evidence proving that Russian authorities were trying to hide the actual coronavirus death toll.
In late December 2019, Chinese officials notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, in central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus - named COVID-19 by the WHO - have been reported in every corner of the globe, including Russia.
On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. According to the latest statistics, over 4,355,000 people have been infected worldwide and more than 293,000 deaths have been reported. In addition, so far, over 1,610,000 individuals have recovered from the illness across the globe.
To date, a total of 242,271 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Russia, with 48,003 patients having recovered from the virus. Russia’s latest data indicates 2,212 fatalities nationwide. Earlier, the Russian government set up an Internet hotline to keep the public updated on the coronavirus situation.