How Putin Rigorously Protects Himself From COVID-19

Like President Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin initially played down the coronavirus – but his country has the world’s fourth highest number of cases. And when it comes to protecting himself, Putin has been far more rigorous than Trump. Correspondent Matthew Chance joins the show from Moscow with details of Putin’s own protective bubble.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Matthew, it is extraordinary, what we’re now hearing from your end, from the spokesman at the Kremlin, about the actual hermetically sealed bubble that Putin himself is in. Tell us what you know.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, look, I mean, to a certain extent, Christiane, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has always sort of lived in a hermetically sealed bubble, even when there wasn’t a panic — pandemic under way. And, of course, during this time of COVID-19, that’s been intensified. It’s been made more extreme. I mean, look, Vladimir Putin doesn’t take personal meetings one-on-one, except in the most exceptional circumstances, anymore. It hasn’t been on a foreign trip since January. And the Kremlin tells me that he’s not planning to go on any foreign trips until perhaps next year, or at least until the end of this year. And so, unlike Trump, he has been very much kind of enforcing these very strict sort of social distancing rules when it comes to himself. He works from home, like most of us do. But his home, of course, is a big official residence outside of Moscow, which has been installed with kind of protective tunnels, plastic tunnels that people have to pass through, that sprays them with disinfectant before they’re even allowed to go into the territory where he sort of spends most of his time. He doesn’t speak to ministers one-on-one. He uses videoconferencing technology. And so it’s sort of added to this idea that he is in a very different situation from the vast majority of Russian people, from the rest of the country, in fact. And, again, these social distancing rules that don’t so much apply to everybody else in the country have been applied extremely strictly to the Russian president, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Yes, I mean, it is extraordinary, because we have also seen some pictures, like when he’s meeting a load of people, particularly on special days and anniversaries, where we then learn that they have been quarantined. Everybody who comes in contact with him, apparently, has to themselves be quarantined for two weeks before even a photo-op.

CHANCE: Yes, that’s right. They get the choice of either being — seeing him in videoconference or spending a couple of weeks in quarantine before they get a face-to-face meeting, those extraordinary scenes back in June, when Russia staged its Victory Day parade, its commemorations of the end of the Second World War. Brings in veterans and the survivors of that conflict. And those people had to spend two weeks, some of them 100 years old, had to spend two weeks in a sanatorium outside of Moscow in isolation, quarantined, so that they could be absolutely sure that they didn’t have the coronavirus, COVID-19, before they were allowed into Red Square and be in the same kind of breathing space as Vladimir Putin. And so, yes, extraordinary measures that are taken in this country, as opposed to in the United States, to protect the country’s president from infection.

About This Episode EXPAND

Journalists and health experts weigh in on President Trump’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis.