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Coronavirus in Russia: The Latest News | Dec. 16 – The Moscow Times

Russia has confirmed 10,131,646 cases of coronavirus and 294,024 deaths, according to the national coronavirus information center. Russia’s total excess fatality count since the start of the coronavirus pandemic is at least 810,000.
Dec. 15
— Russians with coronavirus antibodies from both foreign and domestic vaccines will be able to get a QR code valid for six months, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said Monday.
— Russia will scrap the proposed bill that would require QR codes to access public transport, State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin announced on his Telegram channel on Sunday.
Dec. 6
— Russia has confirmed its first reported cases of the Omicron variant. The new strain was detected in two people who traveled into the country from South Africa, Russia’s consumer and health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said. Another 10 Russians who returned from South Africa have tested positive for the coronavirus and their samples are currently being analyzed to determine the variant, the agency added.
Dec. 3
— Russia said it recorded its deadliest month in decades in October, with the total number of excess deaths since the start of the coronavirus pandemic surpassing 810,000.
Dec. 2
— Russia will require citizens entering the country from South Africa or neighboring countries to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival due to the Omicron variant starting Dec. 2, Rospotrebnadzor head Anna Popova announced.
Nov. 30
— Russian President Vladimir Putin called for mutual recognition of vaccines against the coronavirus to help curtail the pandemic, as concern grows around the world about the fast-spreading Omicron variant.
— Russians returning from countries with which Moscow has not formally restored air travel will have to quarantine for 14 days, Anna Popova, the head of Russia’s Rospotrebnadzor consumer and health watchdog said. The validity of health passes obtained by a negative PCR test will also be reduced from 72 to 48 hours. Popova also advised Russians not to travel abroad for New Year holidays as part of a package of recommendations outlined in response to the Omicron variant.
— Putin has ordered the government to create an updated action plan for the Omicron strain by next week, he said at an investment forum.
Nov. 29
— As many as 1,500 Russian tourists have been left stranded in South Africa as countries scramble to ban flights from the region, media reported Monday.
— The backers of the Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V said Monday that the jab is effective against the new Omicron coronavirus variant but they were also developing an adapted booster.
Nov. 28
— The new Omicron variant may be spreading across Russia by tourists returning from Egypt, Senator and Honored Doctor of Russia Vladimir Krugly said Sunday. Russia’s consumer protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, which leads the country’s Covid-19 response efforts, later denied Krugly’s claims.
Nov. 25
— St. Petersburg aims to vaccinate 80% of its population by mid-January through vaccination, its Governor Alexander Beglov said Thursday. He said 67% of the city is currently vaccinated.
— Russian lawmakers are seeking to recognize those vaccinated against the coronavirus with foreign jabs, the Izvestia daily reported Thursday.
Nov. 24
— President Vladimir Putin repeated his stance that Covid-19 vaccination should be voluntary as regions and cities tighten restrictions on the unvaccinated.
— He added that he has received a nasal Covid-19 vaccine, days after saying he received a Sputnik Light booster shot.
— Russia has registered a Covid-19 vaccine for children 12 to 17 years old, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova announced.
Nov. 23
— Russia and Hungary have agreed to mutually recognize each others’ vaccination certificates, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, marking the first such agreement between Russia and another country.
Nov. 22
— A Siberian region of Russia has become the first in the country to impose self-isolation rules for residents who haven’t yet been vaccinated against Covid-19.
— The republic of Tatarstan became the first Russian province to enforce QR code passes on public transit earlier Monday.
Nov. 21
— President Vladimir Putin said he had had a third dose of a Covid vaccine. “I had it two hours ago,” Putin said on state television channel Rossiya 24, assuring viewers that his booster injection of the Sputnik vaccine had been painless.
Nov. 19
— Russia’s herd immunity has surpassed 50%, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said.
Nov. 17
— Two more Russian coronavirus vaccines are currently undergoing preclinical trials, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said. So far, Russia has authorized four vaccines: Sputnik V, the one-dose Sputnik Light, EpiVacCorona and CoviVak.
— There is “no end in sight” to the Covid-19 pandemic in Russia yet, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
— A Far East Russian region has become the first in the country to introduce vaccine passports for internal flights as federal lawmakers race to mandate health passes for public transport and other areas.
Nov. 16
— Russia will resume air travel with Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Costa Rica and Mongolia from Dec. 1, authorities announced. It will also lift all remaining restrictions on flights with Mexico, Cuba and Qatar starting that day. Starting Dec. 12, train connections to Finland will resume.
Nov. 16
— U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has received approval to conduct trials of Paxlovid, a novel oral antiviral treatment aimed at preventing and treating Covid-19. Ninety people in a handful of Russian cities will take part in the trials.
Nov. 12
— Russia will introduce health passes for access to public places, restaurants and intercity trains and planes in a radical move designed to boost Russia’s sluggish vaccination campaign.
Nov. 9
— St. Petersburg mandated vaccination against Covid-19 for all residents over 60 years old as well as people with certain chronic illnesses.
— Russia is now the world leader in coronavirus deaths for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
— The developer of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V has said Moscow should make jabs mandatory as inoculation rates remain low despite record deaths and campaigning by authorities.
Nov. 8
— Russia’s nationwide paid holiday aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus came to an end Monday. Some regions are keeping the restrictions in place and many others are implementing digital passes showing proof of vaccination or recent Covid-19 recovery.
— QR codes proving one’s vaccination continue to be valid for one year after vaccination, Russia’s Health Ministry and Digital Development Ministry said Monday following reports that the validity period had changed to 6 months.
Nov. 2
— Russia’s single-dose Sputnik Light vaccine produces a strong antibody response among recipients, according to research published in leading medical journal The Lancet. Sputnik Light is the first dose of Russia’s two-dose Sputnik V vaccine, which is the backbone of Russia’s domestic vaccination campaign and is being sold around the world. 
Nov. 1
— Russian authorities said that doctors were under “extraordinary” strain due to surging coronavirus cases in Europe’s worst-hit country.
— The Novgorod region in northwestern Russia has become the first region to extend the non-working week. It will order all non-essential workers to take a mandated paid holiday for an additional week after Nov. 7.
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Oct. 27
— The Kremlin cautioned Russians against traveling during the Oct. 30-Nov. 7 non-working period ordered by Moscow to stem a spike in coronavirus infections and deaths.
— The Israeli government will allow tourists vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine to enter the country starting Nov. 15.
Oct. 26
— All of Russia’s 85 regions across 11 time zones have now mandated vaccines for certain categories of workers, Anna Popova, who heads the federal health watchdog that is leading the country’s response to the virus, said.
— The European Union expects countries including Russia to investigate the sale of fake Covid-19 certificates online and take appropriate measures, an EU spokesperson told RBC. The cybersecurity company Kaspersky said last week that it uncovered counterfeit travel certificates made to look as if they were issued in France or Poland being sold for an average price of $300 on the Telegram messaging app.
— Authorities in annexed Crimea said they plan to purchase mobile refrigerators to store bodies in the city of Simferopol as Covid-19 deaths continue to rise and the city’s morgues are overwhelmed.
Oct. 25
— Russian authorities were investigating nurses and a doctor in St. Petersburg accused of selling fake coronavirus vaccination certificates, as the country faces a deadly new wave. The Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said a doctor and three nurses are suspected of pocketing at least 100,000 rubles ($1,430) from 12 people after selling official certificates without having administered jabs.
— President Vladimir Putin instructed regional leaders to order restaurants to close between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. and to ban all entertainment events.
— Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin imposed a partial citywide lockdown between Oct. 28-Nov. 7 to stem the spread of the virus.
— The restrictions suspend businesses, services, catering, sports, recreation, entertainment and film screenings with the exception of the sale of essential goods like medicines and food. Mass events, except those authorized by health officials, will be banned, and theater and museum attendance will be capped at 50% with mask-wearing and digital-code rules in place. In-person public services will be suspended and kindergarteners and school students sent home between Oct. 28 and Nov. 7.
The Moscow region introduced identical restrictions shortly after Sobyanin’s announcement.
— President Vladimir Putin will not meet people face-to-face during Russia’s nationwide week-long paid holiday starting on Oct. 30 designed to curb Covid infections amid record deaths, his spokesman said.
— The pace of vaccinations in Russia has accelerated following a string of regions imposing vaccine mandates for workers in certain sectors of the economy and vaccine passports for entry into indoor venues, according to the Gogov website which tracks vaccine uptake across the country. It estimates Russia is administering more than 300,000 first doses each day — up from around 120,000 a day earlier October.
Oct. 23
— Russia’s second city St. Petersburg will impose a partial lockdown from Oct. 30-Nov. 7, authorities announced.
Oct. 21
— Sochi is bracing for an influx of tourists during public holidays starting Oct. 30 designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Occupancy rates in hotels are set to be at least 75%, the city’s mayor said — equivalent to peak summer months at the Black Sea resort. The city has introduced vaccine passports for entry into restaurants and bars in a bid to stop the spread of the virus despite the mass inflow of tourists.
— Russia has detected a new sub-variant of the Delta strain of the coronavirus, which risks compounding the country’s spiraling infections and deaths, a senior Russian government scientist warned.
— The European Union’s drug regulator will not approve Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine until at least the first months of 2022, Reuters reported.
Oct. 20
— President Vladimir Putin announced a non-working week in Russia from Oct. 30-Nov. 7. Putin pleaded with Russians to get vaccinated and said the public holidays could be extended further if cases do not start to fall.
— Nationwide, 87% of hospital beds reserved for coronavirus patients are occupied, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said in a televised meeting with President Vladimir Putin.
Oct. 19
— Some 1,100 medical staff died from Covid-19 in Russia during the first six months of 2021, the chair of the State Duma’s budget committee said. That is more than twice the number who succumbed to the virus in 2020, he added.
— Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has backed plans for a nationwide non-working week starting Oct. 30. The proposal was put forward by Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova during a televised government meeting. Mishustin said the strict measures — effectively a paid vacation or orders for workers at non-essential businesses to stop going into their place of work — were “now necessary” given increased numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Golikova said some regions should introduce the non-working week earlier, on Oct. 23 and also called for unvaccinated pensioners to start self-isolating at home. 
Oct. 18
— Russia’s second city, St. Petersburg, announced it would tighten restrictions to battle a surge in Covid-19 cases, introducing a health pass to regulate access to crowd events.
— Moscow authorities will start fining public transport passengers whose face masks do not cover their nose and mouth, a transit official said.
— South Africa’s health products regulator said it would not approve Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine due to concerns it could increase the risk of HIV infection among men. The decision was based on earlier studies testing the safety of a modified form of adenovirus  — a type of virus that causes respiratory infections  — known as the Ad5 and contained in the Russian jab. 
— Russia will allow family members of foreigners who live in Russia to enter the country, the Foreign Ministry said. The relaxation will allow people from countries not yet on Russia’s designated list of open countries to receive a special entry permit to come to Russia, provided they have a close relative living in Russia.
Oct. 16
— According to Rospotrebnadzor head Anna Popova, 38 of Russia’s 85 regions have introduced vaccine mandates for certain categories of citizens and employees working in designated sectors of the economy, such as retail and hospitality.
Oct. 15
— Russia will resume regular air travel with the Bahamas, Iran, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Slovenia, Tunisia, Sweden and Thailand starting Nov. 9, the national Covid-19 headquarters announced.
Oct. 14
— Health Minister Mikhail Murashko has called on doctors who are self-isolating or even retired due to the pandemic to get vaccinated and return to work due to record increases in Covid-19 infections and deaths.
Oct. 12
— The Moscow region that surrounds the capital has imposed vaccine mandates for sales, food, transport, public service, hair salon and fitness club employees. 
— Roughly 235,000 of Russia’s 255,000 Covid hospital beds nationwide are occupied, with 6,000 patients on ventilators, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said.
— Russia’s western exclave of Kaliningrad has suspended planned medical procedures as it battles an “extremely difficult” surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. The central Mari El region also canceled routine operations and medical treatment from Tuesday, warning that it had run out of free hospital beds and may soon have to start treating patients in corridors.
Oct. 11
— The Kremlin described Russia’s Covid fatality toll as “high” and the country’s vaccination rate as “unacceptably” low, even as it rejected new restrictions so as to protect the economy.
— Moscow launched free express coronavirus tests at 20 locations across the city, as the capital continues to battle with rising infection rates. The tests give a result in 15 minutes, but are less effective than the gold standard PCR tests. Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said rapid testing would allow “socially responsible citizens” to ensure they are not spreading the virus.
— The Leningrad region that surrounds St. Petersburg will require residents to present QR codes proving their vaccination status or a negative PCR test in order to enter theaters, cinemas, swimming pools and gyms through Nov. 15.
Oct. 8
— Russia reported 65,000 excess fatalities in August in a 45% jump on pre-pandemic mortality rates, official data showed. The country’s overall number of excess deaths since the start of the coronavirus stands at 660,000.
— EU Ambassador to Russia Markus Ederer said that the country “has repeatedly postponed” the timing of the inspection requested by the European Medicines Agency which has slowed down the approval process of the vaccine in the EU. The Russian Ministry of Health responded by saying that it presented the EU with all the necessary documents that the block requested.
Oct. 7
— A World Health Organization delegation will visit Russia this month as part of its approval procedure for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, Russian Direct Investment Fund head Kirill Dmitriyev said
— The problem behind WHO’s suspension of Sputnik V’s approval process has been resolved, said Mariangela Simao, WHO’s assistant director general for access to medicines, vaccines and pharmaceuticals.
— Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has announced that mass PCR testing will be introduced in Russia’s capital in 1-2 weeks.
— Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said the federal government recommends Russian regions introduce QR-codes for attending mass events, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported. 
Oct. 4
— Russia’s top cabinet official on Monday criticized the country’s stalling vaccination rates for failing to slow the spread of Covid-19 as Russians die in numbers not seen since the start of the pandemic.
Sept. 30
— Russia has completed Phase 3 trials of its Sputnik V vaccine, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko announced, over a year after Moscow touted the jab as the world’s first authorized coronavirus vaccine.
— Russian residents may soon be able to receive vaccines not recognized by the government, the Kommersant business daily reported, citing a Health Ministry proposal put up for public discussion.
Sept. 29
— President Vladimir Putin is no longer self-isolating, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists. Putin previously said that dozens of people in his entourage tested positive for the coronavirus before he went into self-isolation.
Sept. 28
— Two Russian regions, the Perm region and the republic of Udmurtia, will reimpose QR code requirements to enter public events, cinemas, theaters and cafes starting next week amid an upswing in Covid-19 cases and deaths.
— The United States is set to impose new travel rules that would ban entry to noncitizens who have not been vaccinated with an FDA or WHO-approved vaccine, a move that would shut out millions who have received Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, The Washington Post reported Monday.
Sept. 26
— Russian officials have increased warnings that the country faces a looming fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Anna Popova, the head of the Rospotrebnadzor health watchdog, which is leading the country’s response to the virus, said the growth in new infections was “intense” in 36 of Russia’s 85 regions. She also warned regional healthcare systems to be prepared for a possible influx in patients over the coming weeks.
Sept. 16
— Russian President Vladimir Putin said that dozens of people in his entourage tested positive for the coronavirus before he went into self-isolation earlier this week.
— A Russian pharmaceutical company has launched production of the British-Swedish AstraZenica vaccine. The doses will be intended for export only as Russia only uses domestically developed vaccines within its borders.
Sept. 15
— The World Health Organization (WHO) has suspended its approval process for Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, pending a fresh inspection of at least one Russian factory manufacturing the shot.
— Russia will resume flights with five more countries — Denmark, South Africa, Peru, New Zealand and Djibouti — starting Oct. 5, the national coronavirus taskforce said.
Sept. 14
— Russian President Vladimir Putin is going into self-isolation over coronavirus concerns in his inner circle, the Kremlin said. 
Sept. 13
— Russia will resume regular air travel with Spain, Iraq, Kenya and Slovakia starting Sept. 21, the government announced.
— The first dose of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is 78.6% effective against coronavirus infection, 87.6% effective against hospitalization and 84.8% effective at preventing coronavirus deaths, according to a large-scale study of Argentine vaccinations published in The Lancet. The study noted the results might not be applicable to new variants like the dominant Delta variant.
Sept. 8
— Roughly 700 Russian doctors have died from the coronavirus so far in 2021, the Health Ministry’s chief non-staff pathology specialist Igor Bukhtiyarov said.
Sept. 6
— Russia’s flagship airline Aeroflot has suspended several pilots for refusing to vaccinate against the coronavirus, the RBC news website reported, citing a company spokesperson.
Sept. 2
— Russia could see a renewed surge of the coronavirus as early as this month, top health officials have warned.
— Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine demonstrated 94.8% efficacy against Covid-19, according to real world data from San Marino, where around 70% of the population have been inoculated with Sputnik V, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said. The vaccine also showed 95.9% effectiveness against hospitalization.
— The protection offered by Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine could increase during the first six months after vaccination, a preliminary study in Argentina has found. Researchers analyzed blood samples of those inoculated with the Russian jab and found antibody responses were stronger six months after being vaccinated compared to levels recorded three weeks after the second dose.
Aug. 31
— Slovakia will halt the use of Sputnik V due to low demand among its population, reports said. The EU member state’s decision to approve the Russian vaccine ahead of EU approval sparked a political uproar that led to the resignation of its prime minister.
Aug. 26
— Russia registered its fifth coronavirus vaccine, EpiVacCorona-N, Interfax reported. The Health Ministry said it was an upgrade on the already-approved EpiVacCorona jab, which had been under scrutiny after clinical trial participants raised questions about the vaccine’s effectiveness. Both were developed by the state-run Vector Institute.
— Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine offers strong protection against hospitalization, according to scientists who have conducted the first independent real-world study of the jab’s effectiveness in combating severe infections.
Aug. 18
— Russia will launch a nationwide lottery for citizens who are vaccinated, according to an order signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. One thousand winners will be randomly selected to receive cash prizes of 100,000 rubles ($1,360).
Aug. 17
— Thailand will allow tourists vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V to enter its Phuket Sandbox areas, the Bangkok Post reported.
Aug. 13
— Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has canceled rules requiring employers in the capital to ensure at least 30% of unvaccinated staff work remotely. Guidelines to employers to regularly test employees for coronavirus and take temperature checks have also been scrapped.
Aug. 12
— Chinese aviation authorities have suspended Moscow-Shanghai flights operated by Russian flagship carrier Aeroflot for two weeks starting Monday, Aug. 16, after five Covid-19 cases were detected among passengers on the July 30 flight, the Russian state-run news website reported.
Aug. 11
— Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is 83% effective against the Delta variant, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said. Research published in The Lancet this winter showed Sputnik V to be 91.6% effective against the original coronavirus strain.
Aug. 6
— Russia saw more than 530,000 excess deaths between the start of the pandemic and the end of June 2021, according to official data.
July 30
— The European Union now recognizes vaccination certificates from San Marino, where 90% of those vaccinated have received Sputnik V.
— Russia has approved clinical trials of a combination of its Sputnik V and the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine that will run through next spring.
— Starting Aug. 9, Russia plans to resume flights with Egypt’s resort cities of Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh, the national coronavirus task force announced. Russia also plans to resume flights with Bahrain, the Dominican Republic and Moldova on that date.
July 23
— Russia’s Labor Ministry and the consumer protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor issued instructions for employers to ensure 80% immunity among staff through vaccinations and recovery from Covid-19, allowing paid leave for vaccinated employees and suspension without pay for those who refuse to get vaccinated.
July 22
— Moscow’s 119 health clinics and 45 vaccination sites began offering Sputnik V and Sputnik Light booster vaccine shots against coronavirus, according to Deputy Mayor Anastasia Rakova. Mayor Sergei Sobyanin kicked off the booster campaign on July 1, urging vaccinated residents to get a third shot six months later, as the country battles the highly contagious Delta variant.
July 16
— Starting July 19, Moscow restaurants will no longer require a QR code proving one’s vaccination, immunity or negative test results to dine indoors, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced.
— Most service sector businesses in Moscow met a Friday deadline to ensure 60% of their workforce received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, the capital’s coronavirus taskforce said. Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced he would give employers who fell short another week, until July 22, to meet the requirement.
July 15
— The Kremlin said that Moscow had no immediate plans to allow foreign coronavirus vaccines into Russia, despite the country’s sluggish vaccination rates and rising death toll in a third wave of the pandemic.
July 14
— Russia will resume reciprocal flights with France and the Czech Republic from July 24, the country’s coronavirus information headquarters announced.
— Russia has overtaken France as having the world’s fourth-highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases, according to the World Health Organization.
July 13
— The developers of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine said a deal had been struck with Indian vaccine maker the Serum Institute to produce 300 million doses annually.
— Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency has ordered that airlines test all pilots and flight attendants for coronavirus once every 72 hours, the RBC news website reported.
— The republic of Buryatia in Siberia has lifted its lockdown after becoming the first Russian region to order all non-essential shops and businesses to close from June 27.
July 9
— Russia’s Black Sea coastal resorts including Sochi will require visiting tourists to vaccinate against the coronavirus within three days of arrival starting Aug. 1, regional authorities announced.
— St. Petersburg authorities will ban gatherings of more than 75 people from July 13, city officials announced. Case numbers have spiked in Russia’s second-largest city as it has hosted seven matches in the football tournament.
— Moscow’s outdoor restaurant verandas will stay open to diners who lack a QR code proving their vaccination or immunity through Aug. 1. Originally, the city planned to require QR codes to dine at verandas starting July 12.
July 7
— Starting July 7, Russians returning from overseas will be required to self-isolate until they test negative for Covid-19, consumer protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said. Vaccinated or recently recovered Russians are exempt from the rule.
— A senior administrator at a western Russian clinic has been detained on suspicion of selling fake coronavirus vaccine certificates, police said. Meanwhile, Moscow police announced the city’s first criminal case against a person who had allegedly purchased a fake QR code for dining indoors at the city’s restaurants. 
July 6
— The Kremlin said it doesn’t support closing internal borders between Russia’s regions to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
July 5
— Germany’s health agency said on Monday it would lift a ban on most travelers from five countries including Russia that have been hit by the Delta variant of Covid-19. Russia will be reclassified as a “high-incidence area.”
July 1
— Moscow authorities announced that all patients with acute respiratory symptoms will be required to self-isolate and take express tests for COVID-19.
— Supplies of Russia’s EpiVacCorona vaccine have run out in Moscow, city authorities said, leaving Sputnik V and Sputnik Light as the only remaining vaccine options for Muscovites after supplies of the CoviVac ran out on June 22.
AFP contributed reporting.
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