Speaking to RIA Novosti on Wednesday, Andrey Klishas, the chairman of the Russian senate’s committee on constitutional legislation said that requiring citizens to get Covid-19 jabs “does not contradict the constitution.” However, he added, the Kremlin would not be able to simply issue a decree, and MPs would have to be given a vote on a federal law.
Klishas’ comments come hours after one of the country’s leading scientists backed mandatory immunization. Alexander Gintsburg, who led the team that developed Russia’s pioneering Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, used an interview with the Rossiyskaya Gazeta to state that it was “impossible to get rid of Covid-19 without vaccination.”
“It’s just as bad to be unvaccinated as it is to go around spitting or something,” the head of Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute said. “Or to walk about with dirty hands.” Gintsburg went on to add that the pandemic would only end “when 70 to 75% of the population of our country, and indeed the world, is vaccinated.”
To achieve this, he argued, “vaccination must be mandatory, and children must be taught that they need to be vaccinated like their parents to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
On Tuesday, officials in Russian’s second city, St. Petersburg, signed a decree requiring all over-60s and people with chronic conditions to receive their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine within the next month. The country has seen a sharp spike in mortality in recent weeks, with a record number of deaths – 1,239 in total – recorded in the past 24 hours alone.
In international polls, Russians have repeatedly been ranked among the most reluctant citizens anywhere in the world to opt for a Covid-19 vaccine. Officials have blamed the low rate of uptake on a high level of skepticism, both about the vaccine and the virus itself. President Vladimir Putin has sought to reassure people that “not a single serious case of complications” had occurred during the nationwide rollout of jabs, and “there is nothing to be afraid of here.”
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