It’s been an uncomfortably swift rise to the top of the coronavirus tables for Russian President Vladimir Putin. From only a handful of COVID-19 cases in early March, Russia now has more than 290,000 of them and a rate of new infections that puts it second only to the United States — a country with more than twice as many people.

Few governments have made a success of managing the epidemic. Yet the rapid spread of the illness has exposed a Russian health system that’s suffering from poor funding, incomplete reforms that neglected much of the country and a misguided attempt to replace imports of drugs and medical equipment with local production — at least until two ventilators caught fire and killed patients. An authoritarian regime that dislikes bad news and fuels disinformation hasn’t helped.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.