Russia to summon doctor after Putin complaint
Prosecutors said Friday they planned to call in for questioning a cardiologist who complained to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that doctors were told to lie about their conditions when the Russian strongman recently visited a hospital.
Ivan Khrenov, a young cardiologist from the central Russian town of Ivanovo, told Putin during a live call-in show on Thursday about "window dressing" when "hospitals were urgently prepared for his visit."
He said medical equipment had been temporarily brought to a regional hospital from other hospitals and nurses and doctors were told to lie about their paychecks.
"The prosecutor's office in the Ivanovo region is verifying the information which a local doctor reported during a call-in with the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin," the general prosecutor's office said in a statement.
A spokeswoman for Ivanovo region prosecutors told AFP the cardiologist would be questioned later in the day.
The spokeswoman, Valentina Kruchinina, said the doctor was "an important source" of information, insisting there was no plan to prosecute him.
She added however that he did not work at the regional hospital he spoke about and it was necessary to verify his statements.
Khrenov said that local nurses were told to say that their salary was 12,000 rubles (390 dollars) a month, while doctors were handed slips meant to prove they receive 30,000 rubles (978 dollars) a month.
Putin expressed bewilderment at the report and said it had to be thoroughly checked. "If it was done I have no idea why," Putin said.
Anecdotal evidence regularly emerges in Russia that local officials thoroughly prepare for Putin's visits and often take it to extremes in order to please the top boss.
Ivanovo region governor Mikhail Men denied that medical equipment had been brought to the regional hospital from elsewhere.
"Of course, it could not have taken place because these are for example such objects as a CT scanner for which a special powerful concrete foundation is made," Men said on popular Echo of Moscow radio later Friday.
"Other regional hospitals do not have such equipment."
Speaking of the salaries, he said an average salary for a doctor in his region was 17,000 rubles (552 dollars).
"Following this call I understood that I will have to interfere in this process more thoroughly," he added.
© 2010 AFP