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  2. Yamal residents have started a flash mob with photos of officials without masks in public spaces

Yamal residents have started a flash mob with photos of officials without masks in public spaces

Ivan Zhuravkov
Photo of Marina Treskova and Dmitry Artyukhov, used in the People of Quality Fear No Virus Flashmob
Source: Marina Treskova's personal page on vk.com
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People from the city of Labytnangi in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug have started the People of Quality Fear No Virus Flashmob; they are posting photos of the governor, the head of the city, and other public authorities violating the mask mandate in social networks. The administration's employees left comments to them, explaining that the officials were not wearing masks because they had got vaccinated against coronavirus, had their PCR tests, or taken off their masks at some point because they could not have helped showing their emotions.

Photos entitled People of Quality Fear No Virus have been posted in the Labytnangi Info Community on vk.com since June 23. Judging by the pictures, the head of the city Marina Treskova violates the mask regime more often than other officials. One photo shows her and the governor of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug Dmitry Artyukhov sitting without masks in a grandstand amid spectators, some of whom have lowered their masks. The official account of the Labytnangi City Administration explained that the photo had been taken during the title game of the Russian Volleyball Championship’s youth league in March: temperature control was organized at the entrance to the complex, all visitors were wearing masks, but fans took them off during the game because "they could not help showing their emotions".

Another photo was published as part of the flash mob: the head of the city is wearing no mask (outdoors, but surrounded by many people); she is congratulating the employees of the city hospital on their professional holiday. The account of the city administration commented on the photo, referring to the fact that masks should be worn indoors, especially in shops and on public transport. But the community’s administrator cited the Head of the Russian Federal State Agency for Health and Consumer Rights (Rospotrebnadzor) Anna Popova who said that everyone should have worn masks outdoors and in public spaces.

Users have posted some more photos entitled People of Quality Fear No Virus; they were taken during the meeting of the heads of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug's municipalities in the city of Muravlenko, which took place on June 22. In the photos, dozens of officials are sitting without masks, including the head of Labytnangi Marina Treskova. The Labytnangi Administration’s official account reported in the comments section that all the heads of cities and districts had been vaccinated, and the participants of the meeting had had their PCR tests before the trip. Users responded to it by referring to the decree of the Governor of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug on the high-alert mode's extension until August 31; it provides no instructions that citizens who have been vaccinated or had a PCR test may not comply with the mask mandate.

As the coronavirus pandemic began in the spring of 2020, Russian officials introduced restrictions, including the mandatory wearing of masks in public spaces, in most regions. At the same time, the Code of Administrative Offenses was amended with Article 20.6.1 (Failure to Comply with the Rules of Conduct in Case of an Emergency or its Threat). Citizens face a fine of up to 50 thousand rubles for violating it.

This rule has been used against activists who hold street protests. For example, a court in Tambov fined pensioner Oleg Bondarev for 50 thousand rubles for not wearing a mask during an action in support of Alexei Navalny. Lawyer Alexander Kozenkov from Arkhangelsk got a fine of 10 thousand rubles for a similar violation during an unagreed rally on January 31. In Severodvinsk, a court fined activist Oleg Mandrykin, who attended a meeting against a local park’s development without a mask, for 10 thousand rubles.

At the same time, law enforcement officers seem not to initiate cases against officials for not wearing masks. In Nizhnevartovsk, the police refused to hold the head of the city Vasily Tikhonov administratively liable for violating the mask mandate. Anatoly Krayev, a deputy of the Kostroma Regional Duma from the United Russia Party, who did not wear a mask at public hearings, was prosecuted, but was only given a court's warning.


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