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Video: Kremlin ‘installs disinfectant tunnels’ to protect Putin against coronavirus

Vladimir Putin's Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly. (The Kremlin/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

News reports say the Kremlin has installed special disinfecting tunnels in an effort to protect President Vladimir Putin from being infected with the coronavirus.

The state news agency RIA-Novosti reported on June 16 that the devices, manufactured by a company based in the city of Penza, had been placed at Putin’s residence in Novo-Ogaryovo outside Moscow.

The Associated Press, meanwhile, cited Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying on July 17 that one such device was installed at the president’s home and two at the Kremlin.

“When it comes to the head of the state, additional precautionary measures are justified,” Peskov was quoted by AP as saying.

The tunnels were put in when Russia’s coronavirus “was in full swing,” he said.

Video of the disinfecting device first appeared on the official website of the Penza region, and was later obtained by RFE/RL and other news media.

The device resembles an airport security screener, appearing to spray individuals walking through it with a misty antiseptic.

Russian authorities on June 17 reported 7,843 new confirmed cases, the lowest daily number since late April. The country has a total of 553,301 confirmed cases, the third most in the world after the United States and Brazil.

As Russian coronavirus cases climbed in March and April, Putin sequestered himself at Novo-Ogaryovo, holding video conferences with governors and cabinet officials, giving televised speeches, and occasionally meeting with top security advisers.

Last week, however, he attended his first public event in Moscow in a month, a ceremony marking the national Russia Day holiday.

The pandemic scrambled the Kremlin’s plans for this spring, which included a national vote on constitutional amendments that will open the door for Putin staying in power until 2036. The vote is now scheduled for July 1.

The traditional May 9 Victory Day parade in Red Square, marking the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, was also postponed until June 24.

As part of measures to protect Putin from possible exposure to the coronavirus, nearly 80 veterans selected to sit with the Russian leader at the parade are being kept in isolation at a health resort outside Moscow, Bloomberg reported.

It quoted two unidentified officials as saying that the veterans were brought to the resort for 14 days before the parade, when they’ll be transferred to join Putin on the tribune.