The parents have also organized protests at the sites to be closed; and perhaps indicative of where things are heading, they have been joined in some of them by KPRF, LDPR and Navalny activists, a shift from the increasingly prevalent communal protest to a more overtly political one.
The authorities have only themselves to blame given what they are telling parents. The official explanation for the closure on one hospital is that it is old, but doctors and parents say that no new hospitals have been built in recent years or are planned.
And the closures are creating problems that few think about – until or unless they or their children need assistance. When the network of hospitals was open, ambulance drivers knew where to take those with emergencies. Now, that is increasingly unclear, with drivers having to guess where to take those they pick up.
The closure of hospitals also means that children are sometimes placed in adult institutions and then required to run between buildings in their nightgowns even when temperatures are low and there is snow on the ground. Medical people say they can’t imagine how such a thing could be tolerated.
Andreyeva details the complicated and convoluted history of the closures that have happened since Putin announced his “optimization” of health care, a euphemism for cut backs, closures that have put ever more people and especially children and the elderly at risk and sparked new anger at the Kremlin leader whose friends continue to get richer.
To the extent that residents of Saratov and others find proof that the land freed up by the closure of hospitals is being sold or rented for the profit of those around the powers that be, they are likely to do more than send petitions or hold demonstrations about it. They are likely to make political demands – and that is something the regime at present can’t really afford.