Putin will build a $48 million luxury hospital for elites as average Russians struggle for healthcare
Vladimir Putin is backing a $48 million health clinic dedicated to senior Kremlin officials and elites in the Russian president’s retinue, a Reuters investigation reported Thursday. The opulent healthcare clinic will open in Moscow at a time when Russian healthcare is in crisis and the disparity in the quality of medical care for Russian oligarchs vs. the country’s ordinary citizens continues to widen.
Russia ranked 119th out of 188 countries in an assessment of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals published in the Lancet medical journal, trailing countries with significantly lower GDP, like Samoa and Tajikistan. And Russia doesn’t fare so well when it comes to life expectancy either: It declined sharply after the fall of the Soviet Union, from 68.4 years in 1991 to 65 years in 2003. Although it’s risen since to 70.46, according to most recent data collected by the World Bank, it still falls below the world average of 71.5.
In April 2015, the Moscow Times reported that between 2005 and 2013, the number of health facilities in rural areas of Russia dropped 75 percent, from 8,249 to 2,085.
“That number includes a 95 percent drop in the number of district hospitals, from 2,631 to only 124, and a 65 percent decline in the number of local health clinics, from 7,404 to 2,561,” the article noted.
Gennady Gudkov, a prominent Putin critic and retired KGB colonel, described the state of Russian healthcare as “tragic.”
“There is outdated and often nonfunctioning equipment, a lack of medicines and hospital beds, and a shortage of medical specialists,” he told Newsweek in November.
The move reflects a concerted effort from the Kremlin to maintain the comfort of elite Russians who find themselves isolated from certain customary luxuries in the wake of crippling sanctions and travel bans instituted by Western governments following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, according to Reuters.
The new wing may come to be the latest symbol of Russia’s unparalleled divide between its ultra-wealthy and the rest of the country. A 2016 wealth report by Credit Suisse stated that those in the country’s top 10 percent owned nearly 90 percent of all household wealth in Russia.
“This is significantly higher than any other major economic power,” the report stated. “According to our estimates, inequality in Russia is so far above the others that it deserves to be placed in a separate category,” the report added.