Staunton, April 29 – The pandemic has revealed serious shortcomings in Russia’s healthcare system, many of them the product of the reduction in funding that has accompanied Vladimir Putin’s “optimization” campaign, officials at the Audit Chamber say, noting that they are developing a program that would reverse current trends (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/75812).
Galina Izotova, deputy head of the Chamber, says that polls show 41 percent of patients don’t trusts their doctors, a reflection of declines in training, something that has been hard to correct because in the last three years, the numbers of all workers have fallen by 42 percent to only 268,000 for the Russian Federation as a whole.
This is going to require the allocation of more funds to the sector. Industrialized countries typically spend about 10 percent of their GDP on healthcare; but even if the increases the government is currently proposing, Moscow will spend only about seven percent of GDP by 2024. Far more money is needed.
And a poll by the Public Opinion Foundation suggests there is growing support for reversing Putin’s approach to the regions and for continuing the grant of authority to them the Kremlin leader has made during the pandemic. Some 71 percent of people across the country favor that step (vedomosti.ru/opinion/articles/2020/04/29/829338-epidemiya-regionalizma).
But one Ukrainian commentator, Sergey Ilchenko, says any decentralization will leave Putin face to face with “a multitude of petty Stalins who will struggle for access to resources.” Since Moscow already has no resources to give them, “besides orders,” this will lead to serious problems (dsnews.ua/world/virusnaya-korona-rossiyskoy-imperii-prevratit-li-pandemiya-28042020220000).
Meanwhile, Amnesty International has released a report which concludes that Russia like many other countries has devoted more attention to fighting dissent than to combatting the pandemic, a position the Grani portal fully concurs in (eurasia.amnesty.org/2020/04/28/doklad-strany-vostochnoj-evropy-i-czentralnoj-azii/ graniru.org/Society/Media/Freepress/m.278548.html).
And in yet another demonstration that any crisis can be used to shift responsibility, Sergey Apoprienko, the head of the Russian Forestry Agency, says the pandemic helps to explain why Russia now faces so many problems with forest fires. Self-isolation is keeping them from taking the steps needed, he suggests (babr24.com/msk/?IDE=200057).