Scheduled surgeries for patients in Russia are being canceled as resources are diverted to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Treatments are being delayed or denied for patients with conditions like cancer, hepatitis and cystic fibrosis.
Russia’s race to purchase ventilators and protective equipment for medical workers has raised questions about procurement methods and pricing. One monitoring group found that ventilators for Daghestan were purchased from a single supplier for $40,000. each, more than double the market price. In the Vladimir region, 50 ventilators purchased for a city hospital were found to have been retrieved from a warehouse where they were put 15 years ago in disrepair. Ilya Shumanov, Deputy General Director of Transparency International-Russia, told Current Time, “There are currently about ten investigations and studies in our database. The most popular way to distribute money [in Russia] is the public procurement system. In the context of the pandemic, there is a noncompetitive procedure for concluding state contracts.” (in Russian, Current Time TV)
As local officials across Russia struggle to identify and implement the necessary measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, many have introduced or are considering restrictions on the sale of alcohol. However, even the federal government seems to be of two minds on the issue. (video)
On April 29, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin extended restrictions on foreigners entering Russia “until the fight against [the coronavirus] infection is complete and the epidemiological situation improves.” Exceptions will apply, for example to foreign specialists who maintain imported equipment. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Crimea’s de facto leader Sergei Aksyonov has issued a decree requiring that persons arriving to Crimea without housing and property on the peninsula be placed in a medical observatory for 14 days. The decision was taken in advance of the traditional influx of tourists to the peninsula over the spring holidays. (Ukrainian Service, Crimea Realities)
Entrepreneurs rallied in Kyiv on April 29 to protest a “selective quarantine” that has permitted large businesses like Epicenter, Roshen and McDonalds to operate, while ordering small businesses to remain closed. Protesters clashed with police. Hromadske TV journalist Bohdan Kutepov was reportedly attacked by police, and his equipment was broken. (Ukrainian Service/Current Time TV)
With massive airlifts of personal protective equipment needed during the coronavirus pandemic, Ukraine’s record-breaking freight plane is in high demand. (video)
Serbian lawmakers gathered on April 28 for their first parliamentary session under the country’s state of emergency to debate draft legislation to ratify the measures decreed by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. Inside parliament in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, plastic shields were installed to protect MPs from transmission of the coronavirus. (video)
Prague District Mayor Ondrej Kolar says he is under police protection after authorities informed him that he and two other Prague officials, including the city's mayor, were the targets of a Russian agent sent to the Czech capital to "liquidate" them.
Russia has rejected as slander a Czech media report of an alleged poisoning plot against Prague officials, including the city's mayor, as the Czech counterintelligence agency refuses to comment on the allegations. In his first public comments on the case, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the Czech Republic was a "sovereign state" that would not tolerate "any world power" trying to interfere in its internal affairs.
A report published jointly by Bellingcat and the Russian news site The Insider on April 28 links Colonel General Andrei Burlaka, a top general in Russia’s Federal Security Service, to the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is proposing that the State Department remove Uzbekistan from its "worst of the worst" list of offenders of religious freedom, while reiterating that Russia should be put on that list.
Azerbaijan's central bank has put four of the country's top banks under temporary administration, amid economic difficulties caused by a plunge in oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic. No explanations were officially given for the decision, but some media report it might be a first step toward the banks' closure or merger with other financial institutions.