Staunton, May 29 – Both by what it has done and by what it has left undone, the Putin regime bears responsibility for the accelerating death of rural Russia, with more people there dying or leaving because of his destruction of health care outside the major cities and because of his failure to invest money in basic infrastructure like reliable water lines and sewage systems.
Since Putin became president, the number of hospitals in rural Russia has declined between 300 and 350 every year, Ada Gorbacheva of Nezavisimaya gazeta reports. There are now only 20 percent as many as there were in 2000. The number of polyclinics had fallen by 2700, and the number of field medical stations by “more than 5,000” since 2011 alone.
As a result, she says, “the rural population has been left without medical help” (ng.ru/kartblansh/2018-05-29/3_7234_kartblansh.html).
Russian officials admit the collapse: The Accounting Chamber in 2016 reported that “of the 130,000 rural population points in the country, only in 45,000 can one receive any kind of medical assistance.” In 2015, there was no medical infrastructure at all in 17,500 villages, and “more than 11,000 of these were located “more than 20 kilometers” from the closest doctor.
Moreover, “in 35 percent of these population points, there is no public transport;” and so when people need medical help, they have no reliable way to get from their villages to the ever fewer number of medical facilities in rural areas. And in this regard, “rural” begins just outside the major cities, not just hundreds of kilometers away (ej.ru/?a=note&id=32515).
But the Putin regime’s culpability for the ill health and deaths of rural Russians is not limited to that. It is shown in three other developments: First, Putin’s anti-extremism program is leading to the closure of medical groups, such as those who help diabetics with insulin, under the pretext that they are “foreign agents” (kommersant.ru/doc/3643046).
Second, his regime’s economic approach to health care is leading ever more regime officials to take the position that the population should only get treatment if it will lead to cures that mean the state won’t have to bear responsibility for invalids (uralinform.ru/news/society/291547-v-pomoshi-mladencam-nujno-znat-meru-skandalnye-otkroveniya-uralskogo-deputata/).
In one horrific case, a Yekaterinburg legislative assembly deputy, Nikolay Kosaryev, says that the regime shouldn’t be spending money on low birthrate babies or those with some serious diseases because there won’t be a cure and the people involved will become a burden on the state.
It may look good to cut mortality rates, Kosaryev says; but “from the point of view of burdens on the state, this is not very good at all.” Instead, he argues, the population should be encouraged to pursue a health way of life lest by not doing so, they cost the government money it needs for other purposes.
And third, Moscow has failed to develop critical infrastructure that can support the health of Russians in the villages. According to Tsargrad TV, no enemy of the Putin regime, at the present time, 62 percent of the small cities of Russia don’t have sewage lines connecting most houses, and 40 percent don’t have waterlines (belsat.eu/ru/news/tsargrad-tv-62-malyh-gorodov-rossii-zhivet-bez-kanalizatsii-v-40-netu-vodosnabzheniya/).
“We can talk about any possibilities, about the development of national identity, and about tourist potential, but when, forgive me, we have not toilets and water, we have problems with tourism and everything else,” Elena Dovlatova, the director of the Association of Waterworks of Russia, says.
Or as Belsat puts it even more bluntly, “’the toilet question’ in the small cities of Russia isn’t being solved because of an insufficient amount of money in local budgets.” And in Russia, “small cities” are any which have fewer than 50,000 people in them.