The Russian Federation has been accused of covering up the true number of fatalities caused by the novel coronavirus in their country. According to current official estimates, around 2,300 people have died in Russia from the disease.
However, as reported by CNN, experts have noted that number is suspiciously small -- especially after realizing that Russia has the second most confirmed cases of the disease in the world, at over a quarter of a million. The only country with more confirmed cases is the United States, which has 1.45 million and a death toll of over 80,000.
But it is not just the discrepancy in the fatality rate that has experts questioning the official numbers. Several news outlets reported Moscow saw an unexplained surge of deaths in April. The civil register data reported 11,846 death certificates that month, compared to the ten-year average of 9,866, around a 20 percent increase.
Russian officials have hit back at the accusations that they were underreporting their numbers, claiming the data was "absolutely open."
Officials did recognize that their numbers were possibly lower than other countries because they are only counting fatalities that have been properly attributed to COVID-19 complications via postmortem autopsy. However, the Moscow health department also maintained that it conducts autopsies on every single potential coronavirus victim.
The same statement also insisted that only 40 percent of cases could be considered directly caused by the coronavirus.
"In more than 60 percent of [suspected] cases, deaths were caused by obvious alternative causes, such as heart failure, stage four malignant diseases, leukemia... and other incurable deadly diseases," the department added in a statement.
"In other cases, it's impossible to put COVID-19 as the cause of death," they concluded, adding that the practice of testing autopsies made their count more accurate than those of other countries.
That said, experts have noted that the coronavirus is particularly deadly for those with pre-existing conditions and believe Russian officials might be using those conditions as a way to avoid adding to COVID-19 tallies.
There have been other clues that Russia has been more ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic than it publicly admits.
For example, a number of doctors have recently suffered from mysterious deaths. Three have fallen from windows, two of whom had lodged complaints about the working conditions in hospitals before their untimely deaths, as was previously reported by The Inquisitr.
For his part, Russian President Vladimir Putin has made several public statements asserting that fighting the pandemic remains a priority for him and the government.
"Over the past weeks, all our efforts have been aimed first and foremost at pushing back against the coronavirus epidemic," Putin said in one televised video-conference with scientists and officials, per The Moscow Times.