How bad are things getting in Putin’s Russia? After a late start, the coronavirus has hit Vladimir Putin’s Russia, catching them as unprepared as most of the rest of the world. The number of positive tests has spiked to 155,000 while the death toll has reached 1,450.
But as recently as April 19, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed the outbreak was “under control.”
Sitting in front of a fireplace at his Novo-Ogarevo residence outside Moscow, Putin said Russia had the necessary resources to maintain people’s health and keep the economy afloat.
“All levels of power are working in an organized, responsible and timely way,” he said. “The situation is under full control. All of our society is united in front of the common threat.”
But there are unmistakable signs that things are much worse than the “official” statistics would let on. Three doctors treating coronavirus patients have all ended up falling out of hospital windows. Suspiciously, at least two of the doctors had complained about a lack of PPE for hospital personnel.
Alexander Shulepov, an ambulance doctor in Voronezh, a city about 320 miles south of Moscow, is in serious condition after falling from a hospital window on Saturday. Local state television, citing regional health officials, said he fell out of second-floor window of the Novousmanskaya hospital, where he worked and was receiving treatment after testing positive for coronavirus.
Shulepov was hospitalized for coronavirus on April 22, the same day he and his colleague Alexander Kosyakin posted a video online saying that Shulepov had been forced to continue working after testing positive for coronavirus.
Kosyakin had previously criticized hospital administration for protective gear shortages on his social media and was questioned by the police for allegedly spreading fake news.
Shulepov eventually “retracted” his statement about lack of PPE for workers — and then jumped. Certainly, he could have been despondent over his diagnosis, but friends and co-workers say he was in good spirits.
A doctor in Siberia also died under suspicious circumstances.
On May 1, Elena Nepomnyashchaya, the acting head doctor of a hospital in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, died after spending a week in intensive care, the regional department of the Health Ministry said in a statement.
Local TV station TVK Krasnoyarsk reported at the time that Nepomnyashchaya allegedly fell out of a window during a meeting with regional health officials, during which they discussed turning the clinic into a coronavirus facility.
Nepomnyashchaya was reported to have opposed those changes due to the lack of protective gear in the hospital.
Another doctor infected with coronavirus also died “after a fall.”
On April 24, Natalya Lebedeva, head of the emergency medical service at Star City, the main training base for Russia’s cosmonauts, died in a hospital after a fall.
The hospital within the Federal Biomedical Agency, which says it treated her for suspected coronavirus, released a statement that “a tragic accident” occurred, without elaborating. The hospital did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Putin is in no danger of losing his grip on power, but his legendary political popularity has taken a hit. Despite the flattering portrayals of Putin on state-owned media, just 46 percent of Russians think the government is doing a good job during the crisis. There was already discontent with Putin’s dictatorial rule and without the restrictions and social distancing, it’s likely the protests against the Russian regime would have gotten bigger.
At the very least, a little bit of the shine has been taken off Putin’s image.