For the past three weeks, Moscow residents could be refused dine-in service at restaurants unless they presented an official QR code proving vaccination, recovery from COVID-19, or a recent, negative PCR test. These QR codes were issued along with certificates, which, as it turns out, are numbered based on encrypted statistics from the Russian Health Ministry’s official coronavirus registry. As part of a joint investigation with Holod Media and Mediazona, Meduza’s journalists studied these certificate numbers, which are issued by the government services portal Gosuslugi, and uncovered that Russia has registered as many as 29 million suspected cases of COVID-19 — a number that’s five times higher than the official statistics reported by the country’s operational headquarters for the fight against the coronavirus.
On June 22, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin announced that starting in one week, restaurants and cafes in the Russian capital would only offer indoor dining for customers with official QR codes. Muscovites who had been vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19 in the past six months, or received a negative PCR test could obtain these codes through the municipal services portal mos.ru.