Masks off: RT explores how Chechen Republic, among first in Russia to lift mask mandate, handled its Covid crisis (VIDEO)

Russia’s Chechen Republic is listed as one of the regions with the lowest number of Covid-19 cases. It was also among the first to scrap mandatory mask wearing. RT crew traveled to the area to explore what’s behind its approach.

Effectively zero coronavirus-related restrictions remain in place in the Chechen Republic, with the main mosque in the city of Grozny – capable of accommodating 10,000 people – packed, hospital wards nearly empty and no face masks in sight, as shown by RT correspondent Konstantin Rozhkov.

Though dwarfed by the figures of the US, Brazil and India – the world’s three worst-hit nations, Russia accounts for fourth highest number of cases, with more than 4.4 million infections and nearly 95,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Chechen Republic, located in the Northern Caucasus, has, however, officially fared extremely well during its epidemic, accounting for only a fraction of the country’s considerable tally. So far, over 11,500 cases and 116 deaths were registered in the region since the start of the outbreak.

RT crew traveled to the region, which went through two devastating insurgencies in the 1990s, exploring the reasons behind its seemingly successful handling of the pandemic. Some alleged that the republic’s authorities employed extremely harsh – and legally questionable – lockdown measures, which became the key behind the low numbers.

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Footage that circulated online, said to be filmed in the town of Shali in the end of March last year when the quarantine measures were announced, showed persons resembling law enforcement officers patrolling empty streets armed with plastic pipes. The locals RT talked to, however, denied having seen any of this happening, with the Shali authorities flatly denying it as “fake.”

The extremely low figures reported by Chechnya might stem from the fact that many people who contracted Covid-19 simply did not turn to authorities, battling the disease at home, a top Chechen health official told RT. Around 50% of the republic’s 1.4 million population might have actually contracted the disease during the republic’s epidemic.

The average age of Chechnya’s population might have contributed to the low numbers as well. The region is the ‘youngest’ one in Russia – more than 55% of its residents are aged 29 and younger.

Watch the full documentary below:

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