French President Emmanuel Macron refused a Russian government request that he take a COVID-19 test when he arrived to see President Vladimir Putin in Moscow this week, because the French government was fearful of Russia stealing Macron’s DNA, Reuters reports.
Two sources in Macron’s entourage told Reuters that due to Macron’s fears, the visiting French head of state was kept at a distance from the Russian leader during lengthy talks on the Ukraine crisis in Moscow.
Recall that during the Monday, February 7 meeting between Putin and Macron, both leaders sat at opposite ends of 4-metre-long (13-foot) table during their talks, with some diplomats and others suggesting Putin might be wanting to send a diplomatic message.
But two sources with knowledge of the French president’s health protocol, told Reuters Macron had been given a choice: either accept a PCR covid-19 test done by the Russian authorities and be allowed to get close to Putin, or refuse and have to abide by more stringent social distancing.
“We knew very well that meant no handshake and that long table. But we could not accept that they get their hands on the president’s DNA,” one of the sources told Reuters, referring to security concerns if the French leader was tested by Russian doctors.
The second source in Macron’s entourage confirmed Macron declined to take a Russian PCR test. The source said Macron instead took a French PCR test before departure and an antigen test done by his own doctor once in Russia.
“The Russians told us Putin needed to be kept in a strict health bubble,” the second source said.
The report by Reuters seems credible given that on Thursday, February 10, three days after Macron and Putin had their socially-distanced meeting, the Russian leader received Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. The two men shook hands, and sat close to each other. Kazakhstan and Russia are strong allies.