The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has prepared letters to the editorial offices of the Financial Times and The New York Times demanding that they retract the articles stating that the real death rate from coronavirus in Russia is much higher than the official data, said the spokesperson of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova, as quoted by Interfax.
Zakharova said the future of these news agencies in Russia "depends on whether they will publish refutations."
The Russian State Duma said that the deputies will ask the Foreign Ministry and other authorized bodies to take "personalized measures of response to journalists of these publications up to stripping them of accreditation in Russia."
Danielle Rhoades, vice president of communications for The New York Times, said the editorial board was confident in the accuracy of the data. "We are confident in the accuracy of our material based on data published by the official government agency and interviews with experts of state institutions. No facts in our article are disputed," he said.
On May 11, The New York Times, citing demographer Alexei Raksha, wrote that 70% of deaths of COVID-19 cases in Moscow and 80% in other regions of Russia do not fall into the official statistics due to the peculiarities of establishing deaths. On May 12, the FT newspaper also published an article stating that the real death rate from coronavirus in Russia is 70% higher than the official one.
Both articles cited open data from the Moscow City Hall, according to which the death rate in the city in April was the highest in the last 10 years.