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Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting of the Federal Security Service board Feb. 24, 2021, in Moscow. (AP) Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting of the Federal Security Service board Feb. 24, 2021, in Moscow. (AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting of the Federal Security Service board Feb. 24, 2021, in Moscow. (AP)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher September 9, 2021

Russian president Vladimir Putin has not banned mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations

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  • The Russian president has said he opposes mandatory COVID-19 vaccination orders, but he has not stopped the many orders that have been in place in his country for months.

By the time word leaked that President Joe Biden would require all federal employees and millions of government contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19, a claim was already circulating that Russian President Vladimir Putin had prohibited mandatory vaccinations for his country.

A Sept. 7 Instagram post shared a screenshot of an article that carried this headline:

"President Putin BANS Mandatory Vaccinations in Russia: ‘We Are a Free Country.’"

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Legitimate news reports say Putin has said he opposes mandatory vaccines. But he has not stopped the many mandatory vaccination orders imposed by local and regional governments across his country for months.

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The Washington Post reported from Moscow in July that, based on dictates from governmental authorities, workers in Russia could be suspended by their employers if they didn’t get vaccinated. It noted a communist-led rally in which several hundred people protested mandatory vaccines. 

"Russian authorities appear squarely behind the measures that have taken shape in recent weeks: threats of harsh punishments for employers in retail and service businesses, such as transportation and restaurants, that fail to have at least 60% of their workers vaccinated, and of suspension for workers who refuse vaccines," the Post said. 

"Many employers, particularly in small- and medium-sized business, gripe that Russian authorities have simply passed the buck — handing responsibility for vaccination effort on businesses, when it should belong to the state in a time of growing crisis….Although President Vladimir Putin keeps saying vaccines should not be mandatory, the effect for many Russians is just that."

The Associated Press reported from Moscow in June that 18 Russian regions made vaccinations mandatory for employees in certain sectors, such as government offices, retail, health care, education, restaurants and other service industries; and that Moscow authorities said companies should suspend without pay employees unwilling to get vaccinated.

Also in June, Reuters reported that Moscow city authorities ordered mandatory vaccinations for all workers with public-facing jobs — some 2 million people in the city, including hairdressers, retailers, taxi drivers, bank tellers, teachers and performers. Companies were given a month to ensure at least 60% of staff had received first doses, or face fines or temporary closure.

We rate the post False.

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Russian president Vladimir Putin has not banned mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations

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