Monday, April 20, 2020

Staff at Ingush Hospital, Asking for Masks and Medicine, Told to Resign if They Are Unhappy

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 19 – As coronavirus infections in Ingushetia soar, doctors and nurses at the hospital in Sunzhe who asked protective gear for themselves and medicines for their patients have been told to quit if they don’t like the way things are (

            That kind of response by hospital administrators is part and parcel of a broader pattern in Ingushetia (and elsewhere) that is infuriating the population and prompting many to ask how the authorities have been spending the money they’ve been given if not on materials and means to defend the population. 

            The editors of the independent Portal Six say that “the hopeless silence of the republic authorities which are not able  (or do not want?!) to inform residents about the pandemic and about providing healthcare workers with protection and medicine is giving rise to distrust among the population (куда-в-ингушетии-ушли-средства-на-заку/).

            Confronted with such official malfeasance or indifference, the editors say, “civil society itself is now standing on the advanced line of the struggle with the pandemic.” Suggestions by republic head Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov that the high rate of infection in Ingushetia reflects a population density close to Moscow aren’t convincing.

            That is especially so because it took Moscow two weeks to see the number of infections go up by a factor of ten; in Ingushetia, this rise occurred in “only a week.”  Population density alone doesn’t explain what has occurred. Ingushetia wasn’t ready, as even the republic healthcare minister has admitted despite claims that Moscow has sent massive funds. And now people are dying as a result.

            Ingush people are asking “two questions: why is centralized purchasing [of masks and medicines] beginning only know when many doctors and nurses themselves are already infected with the coronavirus? And why didn’t the government act when doctors, failing to get support from the authorities, turn to the population at large for assistance?

            Even senior officials and prominent figures are outraged. Ayup Gagiyev, the chief justice of the republic Constitutional Court demanded that the healthcare ministry provide information about the pandemic to the people.  And prominent lawyer Magomed Bekov repeatedly has complained about the failure of the authorities to manage what aid has come in.             

            And Gagiyev proposed creating a new public organization, First Aid for Medical Personnel, on the model of the suspended First Aid for political prisoners.  There has been no response from the authorities, but it appears that Ingush activists are now prepared to go ahead with this effort as well.

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