Russian President Vladimir Putin said on May 14 that the education minister had caught COVID-19, making him one of the few high-ranking officials to be infected from the deadly virus. Speaking at a televised meeting via videoconference, Putin said it was “no secret” that Valery Falkov, the minister of science and higher education, had tested positive and recovered.
Russia has witnessed a drastic rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the past few weeks, overtaking Italy and the United Kingdom. It has reported over 250,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, only behind the US and Spain, and 2,305 deaths so far. Putin said during the meeting that Kremlin has dedicated its efforts primarily to countering the coronavirus pandemic and preparing urgent measures.
“Let me reiterate, however, that as the situation changes we can once again focus on matters on our current and long-term agendas,” said the Russian President.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin recently tested positive for coronavirus and is currently being treated for the infection. Mikhail was the first high-ranking official in the Russian Federation to have contracted the deadly disease. Putin’s closest aide and spokesperson Dmitry Peskov also contracted the novel coronavirus and has been hospitalised.
Putin achieved a major landmark of 20 years at the helm on May 7, 2020, but his approval rating has plunged to an all-time low as the country struggles to fight the pandemic. According to reports, Putin's approval rating hit 59%, which is a historic low according to the Levada Centre, an independent Russian non-governmental polling and sociological research organisation.
The last time when Putin's approval rating was below 59% was in September 1999, when he had first assumed the role of the Prime Minister of Russia. As per the Levada Center polling agency, out of the 1,608 respondents that took part in the poll via phone survey, 33% disapproved of Putin's work.
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