MOSCOW -- A group of chief physicians from Russia's major hospitals have called on the country's anti-COVID vaccination politicians and celebrities to visit so called coronavirus red zones at intensive care units and morgues to see how harshly the effects of the illness are hitting the country.
In a letter signed by the chief physicians of leading hospitals in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Samara, Sochi, Krasnodar, and Khanty-Mansiisk, many of whom are members of the ruling United Russia party, the group said "opponents of vaccination" need to see for themselves how bad the situation had become.
In recent weeks, Russia has regularly reported record coronavirus-related deaths amid a surge of infections.
Only around 37 percent of Russia’s nearly 146 million people have been fully vaccinated, even though the country approved the Sputnik V vaccine months before most of the world rolled out their own shots.
The letter , published by the state news agency TASS and media outlet RBK, was addressed to several leading politicians, along with actors Yegor Beroyev, Oskar Kuchera, and Maria Shukshina; music performers and singers Natalya Vetlitskaya, Katya Lel, Konstantin Kinchev, and Yury Loza, as well as "other opponents of vaccination."
"We know your position regarding the vaccination of Russian citizens against COVID-19. All of us are busy now, and you probably know why. However, taking into consideration the number of people who read what you say, listen to you, and follow you, we will find time to show you 'the red zones,' intensive care units, and autopsy units at our hospitals. Hopefully after that you will change your views, and less people will die," the letter says.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the letter was a "positive" move, backing up several pleas from President Vladimir Putin for Russians to get vaccinated amid daily death totals in recent weeks that consistently top 1,000 people.
"Let's hope that the authority of these doctors will help at least one of those people change their point of view," Peskov said.
Among those mentioned in the letter are actor Yegor Beroyev, who said any restrictions on unvaccinated Muscovites would be similar to how Jews were treated in Nazi Germany.
As of November 24, 9,434,393 coronavirus cases, including 267,819 deaths were officially registered in Russia.