Health Editor’s Note: Article sent to VT by Pen America…Carol
From Informed Responsibility to Dangerous Denial: COVID Responses in Eurasia
There have been striking differences in how certain countries in Eurasia have responded to COVID-19 with regard to freedom of expression, access to information, and privacy rights. Authorities in some post-Soviet countries have shown a degree of responsibility with regard to safeguarding human rights, while others have used the public health crisis as cover to infringe on rights and persecute those who dare to speak out.
Below, an overview of how states across Eurasia are responding to the pandemic, up-to-date as of May 4:
BELARUS: GOVERNMENT DISINFORMATION, ACTION IN HANDS OF THE PEOPLE
Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko has called COVID-19 a “psychosis” and recommended people drink vodka, go to banyas (saunas), or work in the fields to ward off the virus. While the Belarusian government does not fully deny the existence of COVID-19, it has heavily downplayed its severity and failed to implement official information campaigns, profoundly endangering public health. Meanwhile, Belarus has one of the fastest growing infection rates in Europe. Lukashenko continues to state that no one would die from the virus itself, but from pre-existing illnesses.