Ivanovo Doctor Fears Reprisals
Published: December 21, 2010 (Issue # 1636)
MOSCOW — An Ivanovo doctor fears being fired or beaten after he told Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on a call-in show last week that a local hospital had faked a display for a visit by Putin, installing borrowed equipment, dressing up staff as patients and forcing nurses to lie about their salaries.
The doctor, Ivan Khrenov, 24, was selected out of thousands of Russians to address Putin during his annual call-in show Thursday. Speaking as an anonymous caller, Khrenov told Putin that the administration of an Ivanovo hospital had created a Potemkin village for his visit on Nov. 9.
He said sick patients were sent home, replaced by clinic personnel surrounded by gleaming equipment borrowed from other hospitals, and nurses had to tell Putin that their monthly salaries had been raised to 12,000 rubles ($390), when in fact they get about 5,000 rubles ($165).
Putin replied that Khrenov’s comments were “strange” but promised that a special commission from the Health and Social Development Ministry would scrutinize how the hospital spent the 130 million rubles ($4.2 million) that it received from the federal government this year.
When the studio audience broke into applause, Putin asked, “What are you cheering at? The art of the [hospital] managers or the doctor’s bravery?”
Ivanovo Governor Mikhail Men, reappointed by the Kremlin to a new five-year term in October, voiced skepticism about Khrenov’s allegations Friday but promised to examine them.
The region’s top health official, Irina Atroshenko, released a statement late Thursday describing Khrenov as “insane” and denying that he had any connection to the hospital.