By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s daily coronavirus infections and deaths are hovering near all-time highs amid a lagging vaccination rate and the Kremlin’s reluctance to toughen restrictions. Russia’s state coronavirus task force reported 29,409 new confirmed cases Monday. That’s the highest number this year and just slightly lower than the pandemic record reached in December. Russia registered its highest daily death toll since the start of the pandemic at 968 over the weekend. Authorities reported 957 new deaths on Monday. Russia already has Europe’s highest death toll in the pandemic at more than 217,000. That number is from a government task force. The state statistics agency, however, uses a broader way of counting and it has reported about 418,000 deaths of people with COVID-19.