Staunton, August 19 – Govorit Magadan, an independent radio station in the Russian Far East, reports that in some local hospitals there, nurses have been compelled to work 100 hours or more to fight the coronavirus but are being paid for fewer than half of those hours (govoritmagadan.ru/rabskij-trud-v-rossii-otmenen-v-19-m-veke-no-v-olskoj-rajonnoj-bolnice-ob-etom-veroyatno-ne-znajut/).
That is a clear violation of Russian labor law, but local officials said that the medical workers had agreed to this when they signed a special agreement calling for them to do whatever was necessary to fight the coronavirus. Unfortunately, an investigation finds that those who signed did not know what they were agreeing to.
They have thus signed themselves into a kind of slavery, something that is also banned by Russian law; and officials have been deaf to the complaints of the nurses that they are being used in this way. Finally, the nurses took courage and turned to journalists at the Govorit Magadan station.
The station prepared, broadcast and posted on its website a major expose of this case. The upshot is almost as interesting as the fact that the case arose at all. The regional investigations committee has asked the station to turn over all the evidence it has about slavery in Magadan (govoritmagadan.ru/sledstvennyj-komitet-otreagiroval-na-nash-material-po-olskoj-bolnice/).
Whether this will lead to an end to this practice or an official coverup, of course, remains to be seen; but it is yet another indication that in many remote parts of the country, the only thing standing between Russians and a state of complete rightlessness are the increasingly scarce and embattled outlets of independent Russian media.