Moscow’s Lockdown-Pass Portal Crashes as Virus Cases Worsen

(Bloomberg) -- Moscow’s new system of digital passes, aimed at forcing people to keep self-isolating as coronavirus cases double every several days, had trouble keeping up with demand on its first day.

The website that hosts the pass system, which becomes mandatory Wednesday, crashed periodically on Monday as people applied for permission to travel around Russia’s capital city. Critics have opposed the plan and the quarantine measures Moscow is imposed until at least the end of the month as unconstitutional. But health officials have said stringent measures are needed to ensure compliance and hold down the number of infections.

While the official tally of 18,328 infections is lower than most European nations, President Vladimir Putin said at a government meeting Monday that the situation is changing and “not for the better.”

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin blamed attacks by foreign hackers for the technical problems during his talk with Putin. Even with the teething problems, about 1.8 million passes were issued, according to Interfax.

Russian cybersecurity expert Dmitry Artimovich expressed skepticism at that explanation, saying the website isn’t accessible from abroad, so probably wasn’t taken down by enemies abroad. More likely, it wasn’t ready for the demand among Moscow’s 12.7 million residents, he said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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