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Charles Maynes

The Kremlin is racing to put down a health crisis in the southern republic of Dagestan, where a surge in recent deaths unattributed to the coronavirus is again raising questions about the severity of the outbreak and how Russia tallies its COVID-19 dead.

The United States delivered 50 ventilators to Russia on Thursday, part of a humanitarian aid package worth $5.6 million to help Moscow fight the coronavirus, U.S. officials said.

Another batch of 150 American-made ventilators will head to Russia next week, according to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

In a statement, the U.S. Embassy called the delivery "rapid fulfillment" of a request Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed on recent phone calls with President Trump.

A Russian art project intended to ward off the lockdown blues has become a viral sensation on Facebook as pent-up Russian speakers from across the globe reenact paintings to pass the time amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Called Izoizolyacia — roughly meaning "Art Isolation" — the Facebook group says it's for people with "limited movement and unlimited fantasy." It invites members to re-create masterworks but with one important restriction of its own: Use only what you have at home.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the global business of surrogate birthing, leaving many infants and their new parents thousands of miles apart.

In Ukraine, the company BioTexCom, which runs a human reproduction center in Kyiv, brought attention to the issue when it released a video showing dozens of babies in rows of cots, apparently waiting for their parents to collect them.

As the number of coronavirus infections surges in Russia, observers have puzzled over a mystery: How is it that a country with over 250,000 suspected cases, and a shaky health care system, has had relatively few deaths?

The answer appears to be the Russian approach to pathology — an approach that has the Kremlin and government health officials in a bitter feud with media organizations over how Moscow interprets, or possibly manipulates, its data.

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With the coronavirus forcing much of Europe to tone down public celebrations this week marking the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, the small nation of Belarus is raising eyebrows — and concerns — by going ahead with a mass military parade in the capital Minsk on Saturday.

The move reflects the business-as-usual approach of the country's longtime president, Alexander Lukashenko — a former Soviet collective farm director leading what the U.S. once dubbed the last dictatorship in Europe.

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Let's turn now to Russia, where there has been a spike in coronavirus infections. For the third consecutive day, Russia saw more than 10,000 new cases. NPR's Charles Maynes is in Moscow.

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In these pandemic days of fear and tedium, literature can be a comforting distraction. In Russia, young readers have rediscovered a Soviet-era poem and are finding a message from the past that resonates. NPR's Charles Maynes in Moscow explains.

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To Russia now, where the country reported more than 4,700 new cases of the coronavirus today. The total number of suspected infections is now more than 62,000.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country is making progress in its battle to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, even as the number of Russians infected continues to rise.

"On the whole we're managing the first issue in the fight against the epidemic — slowing its spread," Putin said on Monday in a televised conference with his coronavirus task force of ministers and health experts.

"But that shouldn't comfort us," added Putin. "As you tell me, the peak is still ahead."

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A Russian government task force reported 954 new cases of coronavirus infection on Monday, the largest one-day spike in COVID-19 since Russia began tracking the disease.

Russia now has documented over 6,000 infections and 47 deaths, though government critics argue the real numbers are higher due to problems with the scale and accuracy of testing.

For now, Moscow remains a hot spot — with the vast majority of COVID-19 cases and resources to combat the disease.

Nearly a dozen Russian military planes filled with medical supplies landed in Serbia on Friday — the latest in a series of controversial Kremlin humanitarian aid missions carried out amid the global spread of the coronavirus.

"Now we have everything to fight the virus," said Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic in a statement released by Russia's Defense Ministry. "I want to say a big thank you to the Russian people."

City authorities in Moscow are rolling out new digital "social monitoring" tools targeting the public, after what officials say were constant violations of the city's quarantine imposed this week to fight the spread of the new coronavirus.

Under restrictions in place since Monday, most of the city's 12 million residents must remain indoors, barring a few exceptions — like trips to the supermarket or pharmacy, taking out the trash or briefly walking the dog.