Russia Will Oppose Any 'Mock Trial' of WHO, China Over Coronavirus, Senate Speaker Says

The speaker of the Russian senate has said that Moscow will not support investigations of the World Health Organization and China over their response to the coronavirus pandemic, hours before President Donald Trump demanded that the WHO commit to "major" reforms within 30 days or lose U.S. funding.

Valentina Matviyenko told the Interfax news agency on Monday that Russia stands behind both China and the WHO, praising both for their work in slowing the spread of coronavirus and warning the international community of the threat.

China is currently facing calls from a host of nations to allow an independent investigation into the origins and course of the pandemic, which originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December and has now spread worldwide, infecting more than 4.8 million people and killing more than 318,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

China has been accused of trying to cover up the initial outbreak and failing to warn the world of the danger. Beijing also allegedly pressured the WHO to downplay the severity of the outbreak, even as officials worked to gather medical supplies needed to fight it.

President Donald Trump has accused the WHO of facilitating Beijing's attempted cover up, accusing the United Nations body of being a "puppet" of China and threatening to freeze all U.S. funding.

Matviyenko said Monday there is "certainly no reason to perform a mock trial or any kinds of investigations" of the WHO, nor to "destroy the useful things that have been accumulated for decades by mankind." She added that Russia "will oppose such actions."

Hours after Matviyenko's comments, Trump wrote to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus laying out his complaints and demanding that the organization commit to "major" reforms within 30 days or lose U.S. funding—which constitutes some 15 percent of the body's budget.

The president accused the WHO of acting as a "puppet of China" and of having allowed COVID-19 to spin "out of control" at the cost of "many lives."

Russia will not be among the nations demanding an international investigation of China's role in the coronavirus pandemic, Matviyenko suggested. "China was the first to take the hit" from the pandemic, she said.

"Its competent and professional restrictive measures, a strict isolation regime and quarantine allowed it to manage, gain experience with coronavirus and gave other countries a respite of a month and a half."

Despite Matviyenko's comments, Russia was among 122 countries that backed a European Union resolution at Monday's World Health Assembly calling for an "impartial, independent and comprehensive" inquiry into the handling of the outbreak. The proposal does not explicitly mention China or Wuhan.

Chinese President Xi Jinping told the World Health Assembly Monday that China would support a "comprehensive review" of the pandemic, but only "after it is brought under control."

The WHO's chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan told a Financial Times webinar last week that it could take four to five years for the international community to bring the pandemic under control.

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Russia's President Vladimir Putin during a video conference meeting on measures supporting Russia's economy and social sector at Novo-Ogaryovo residence. Alexei Nikolsky/TASS/Getty

Russia has been one of the world's worst-hit countries, registering some 300,000 cases and 2,837 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The true number of deaths is believed to be significantly higher than the official figures.

Early on in the pandemic, for example—when President Vladimir Putin was claiming that the outbreak was "under control"—Russian authorities recorded a spike in the number of deaths attributed to pneumonia, which is a key complication of the novel coronavirus.

Putin has now announced an end to the nationwide lockdown despite the high number of infections still being reported daily.

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This file photo shows Russian policemen patrolling Red Square with Saint Basil Cathedral in the background in central Moscow, Russia on May 17, 2020. YURI KADOBNOV/AFP via Getty Images/Getty