This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said goodbye to 2020, which he said “carried the burden of several years.”
Speaking in his annual New Year’s address just minutes before 2021 began in Russia’s Far East, Putin recalled that people around the world looked forward to changes for the better this time last year, but that “nobody could have imagined then what trials were in store for us.”
However, he said, despite the coronavirus pandemic it was also a year “of hope for overcoming hardships and pride for those who displayed the best human and professional qualities.”
Looking ahead, Putin wished for all the “hardships of the outgoing year to become a thing of the past as soon as possible and everything we have gained, the very best unlocked in every person, to stay with us forever.”
“I sincerely wish all of you, as close and dear people, robust health, faith, hope and love,” he concluded. “Be happy in the new, approaching year 2021!
Russia reported more than 27,000 new COVID-19 cases on December 31, taking the national tally to nearly 3,160,000 since the pandemic began.
A total of 593 deaths were reported over the past 24 hours, taking the official death toll to 57,019.
However, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova earlier this week revealed that more than 80 percent of excess deaths this year are linked to COVID-19, which would mean its death toll is three times higher than officially reported.
Excess deaths are the difference between the total number of deaths registered and the average over the previous years for the same period.