MOSCOW—In spite of freezing temperatures in the Russian capital on Wednesday, a crowd of Communist Party protesters grew outside Moscow city hall. Anti-coronavirus measures, one leaflet claimed, are “the revival of fascism.”
Though its top leaders have mostly stayed clear of the issue, the rank-and-file in Russia’s Communist Party, the direct successor of the once giant Soviet party, have become the most visible coronavirus deniers and anti-vaxx agitators in Russia. Rising leaders in Russia’s largest opposition party have taken up the issue by refusing to wear masks, downplaying social distancing, dismissing quarantine plans, and even insisting they will not take Russia’s own vaccine.
Mass vaccinations against the coronavirus began in Russia over the weekend. Many Russians are torn about taking it. Russian scientists have published an open letter accusing the developers of the vaccine, called Sputnik V, of “gross violations.” The Communist street protest against the vaccine and quarantine measures drew hundreds of people to Moscow’s central Tverskaya Avenue.