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Putin hails Russia’s vaccine development in annual address

The Russian leader proposed new incentives to help the economy recover from the pandemic.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual state of the nation address in Manezh, Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Putin’s state-of-the-nation speech comes amid a new surge in tensions with the West over a Russian troop buildup near the border with Ukraine and a hunger strike by jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny protesting a lack of adequate medical treatment in prison. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual state of the nation address in Manezh, Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Putin’s state-of-the-nation speech comes amid a new surge in tensions with the West over a Russian troop buildup near the border with Ukraine and a hunger strike by jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny protesting a lack of adequate medical treatment in prison. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual state of the nation address in Manezh, Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Putin’s state-of-the-nation speech comes amid a new surge in tensions with the West over a Russian troop buildup near the border with Ukraine and a hunger strike by jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny protesting a lack of adequate medical treatment in prison. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has delivered his annual address to the nation amid a sweeping Kremlin crackdown on opposition protests and soaring tensions with the West.

He began his state-of-the-nation speech by hailing the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying the quick development of three coronavirus vaccines underlined Russia’s technological and industrial potential.

The Russian leader has urged authorities to quicken the pace of the country’s vaccination programme, which has been slow compared with the West.

He promised new measures to encourage births and increase average life expectancy, acknowledging that the pandemic has exacerbated demographic trends in Russia.

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Vladimir Putin gives his annual address in Moscow (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

Vladimir Putin gives his annual address in Moscow (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

AP/PA Images

Vladimir Putin gives his annual address in Moscow (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

Mr Putin proposed new incentives to help the economy recover from the pandemic and new social payments to the population.

Allies of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny have called for nationwide protests across Russia on Wednesday to support him.

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Mr Navalny started a prison hunger strike three weeks ago to protest against what he says is inadequate medical treatment for his back pain and officials’ refusal to allow a visit by his doctor.

His imprisonment and health condition have fuelled tensions with the West, already strained over Moscow’s interference with elections, hacking attacks and, most recently, a massive Russian military build-up near the border with Ukraine.

The Kremlin has rejected Western concerns about the troop concentration, saying it is free to deploy the military wherever it is deemed necessary on the Russian territory.


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