Russia Starts Giving Coronavirus Vaccine To Homeless

40 homeless people in Saint Petersburg received coronavirus vaccine jabs on Sunday under a charity initiative that has received the backing of local officials.

“Here, there are many people at risk. It is important for them to be vaccinated,” said Taisia Suvorova of the Nochlezhka non-governmental organization that provides aid to the homeless in Russia’s second-largest city.

The 40 people receiving the vaccine are currently housed by the charity.

According to official figures, there are 15,000 homeless people in the former imperial capital out of a total population of 5 million.

Nochlezhka believes the real figure is at least double that.

“Some people have been saying controversial things about the vaccine, but I think there are more advantages than negatives,” 57-year-old Galina Ivanovna told AFP after receiving the first dose of the vaccine.

“I’m pretty happy to do it,” she added.

Fellow recipient Aleksandr Suvorov, 60, echoed her sentiment, adding that the vaccine was a good thing “because the situation is complicated with coronavirus.”

An NGO has already launched a similar initiative for the homeless in Moscow aided by the authorities in the Russian capital.

Russia registered its first coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, back in August.

A second Russian vaccine, EpiVacCorona, was approved in Oct. 2020. The country officially launched its program of mass vaccinations in January.

On Saturday, Russia announced the registration of its third coronavirus vaccine Kovivak.

According to official figures, 4.6 million coronavirus cases have been registered in Russia, 83,293 of which have proved fatal.

Russian Diplomats Push Railway Handcar Home from North Korea

Russian diplomats and their family members returning from North Korea were forced to push a handcar with their belongings over the border as the reclusive country remained closed due to the coronavirus, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

North Korea has not reported any Covid-19 cases more than a year into the global pandemic that has infected 113 million and killed 2.5 million people. Foreign diplomatic missions closed last spring and most employees, including 13 from Russia’s Embassy in Pyongyang, were flown out of the country.

Eight Russian Embassy employees and their families made their way home Thursday with the help of a railroad handcar loaded with luggage and children.

Their journey began with a 32-hour train ride out of Pyongyang, followed by a 2-hour bus ride to the Russian border, where Russia’s Foreign Ministry said a crucial last leg awaited them.

“The most important part of the route was a pedestrian crossing to the Russian side. They needed to prepare a cart in advance, put it on rails, place the luggage, seat the children and set off,” the ministry said.

Footage shared by the ministry showed the eight diplomats and family members, including Third Secretary Vladislav Sorokin and his 3-year-old daughter Varya, smiling as they slowly moved across the dry deserted landscape.

“They had to push the whole structure by rail for more than a kilometer, with the most crucial segment being the bridge across the Tumen River,” the ministry said with an accompanying video of the cheering travelers.

The road-weary diplomats were met by colleagues at the border crossing and bussed to the Pacific port of Vladivostok, the ministry said in a social media post with the hashtag “We Don’t Leave Our Own.”

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