Thursday, December 24, 2020

Putin’s May 2012 Decrees Destroyed Russia’s Medical System, Auditing Chamber Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 22 – The pandemic has highlighted just how serious the troubles in Russia’s healthcare system are. Now the Accounting Chamber has documented the way in which Vladimir Putin’s May 2012 call for the optimization of the branch, a euphemism for cutbacks, bears responsibility for this development.

            The Chamber’s detailed 54-page investigative report, available online at, shows that Putin’s policies contributed to a 61.3 percent decline in the number of junior medical personnel in Russia between 2012 and 2019.

            Those absent nurses and doctors are precisely the people Russians need now for treatment of the coronavirus and don’t have.  But a second investigation, conducted by journalist Pavel Pryanikov says that Putin’s reforms have had another impact: the rise of private sector healthcare alongside the impoverishment of the public one.

            That means that the population has to bear an increasing share of the costs for healthcare, far above WHO standards, and that those who can afford it can still get reasonable medical care, but everyone else – including the overwhelming majority of the population – gets less (

            For a population which has long viewed healthcare as a constitutional right and a government responsibility, it is infuriating to find, the journalist suggests, that they are no paying a greater share of the cost of healthcare than are their European counterparts.  This has not yet had serious political consequences, but it is hard to see that it won’t.

            The Just Russia Party has been pushing this issue hard in recent months, but its declarations have not yet gained traction with most Russians, perhaps because they believe that one of the three systemic parties really can’t do anything unless United Russia and the Kremlin agree to it. 

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