Shadowy sources inside the country's most renowned domestic security agency, the FSB, told news site RBK on Thursday that a number of its operatives had been unable to get hold of the QR codes they need to enter hospitality venues. While not quite cracking the Engima code, getting hold of the digital passkeys has become a massive task for would-be diners and partygoers since tough new measures to control the spread of coronavirus were introduced earlier this month.
Only those who have been vaccinated with two doses of a Covid-19 jab, or who have recently recovered from the virus after testing positive in the past six months, are eligible for a code, which is required in order to enter bars, restaurants, and even cafes. Others will have to present a clean PCR test from within the past three days if they want in.
However, the clinics handing out doses to the country's security agents are reportedly so secret themselves that they aren't linked up to the city's central coronavirus system. As a result, the spies have been effectively left out in the cold, even if they've had a jab rather than told the doctor no.
Whether they're looking for a view to kill in one of Moscow's high-rise restaurants, or simply hoping to diet another day, the spooks are now reportedly frustrated to find out they don't have a license to dill. Instead, they will have to head home for an early night – bringing a new meaning to the term ‘sleeper agent’.
However, in a statement issued later on Thursday, federal security chiefs said they had “no information” about any of their employees encountering issues with access to the system. At the same time, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted there were still teething problems with the technology. “Are there any difficulties in obtaining QR codes? Yes, they are. Yes, the system is not working properly yet. But I have no doubt that, within a few days, within a week, all this will be normalized,” he said.
Around 2.5 million people have reportedly received their QR codes in the Russian capital since the start of the scheme, city officials have said. However, many venues without terraces or outdoor space appear to have sat virtually empty on the first few nights since it was introduced on Monday.
Moscow is contending with a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections, as the country announced a series of successive record days for deaths this week. Around 90% of all cases are estimated to be down to the infectious new Delta variant, which swept through India before making its way to Europe and the US.
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