From Russia With Shove

“Gaiety is the most outstanding feature of the Soviet Union.”

                                 – Joseph Stalin 

“The rules are simple: they lie to us, we know they’re lying, they know we know they’re lying, but they keep lying to us, and we keep pretending to believe them.” 

                                                                                        – Elena Gorokhova

This is so stereotypical a story, considering the backdrop, it’s kind of funny, in a rueful, gallows way.  In the last two weeks in the Soviet Un – sorry, old habits … in Russia, two physicians and the head of a metropolitan ambulance service have all fallen out of upper-story hospital windows, two to their death.  All three were Covid-19 positive.

Alexander Shulepov, an emergency doctor in Voronezh “is in serious condition after falling from” a second-story hospital window “where he worked and was receiving treatment after testing positive for coronavirus.”  A paramedic co-worker named Kosyakin posted a video claiming the doctor 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,” while Shulepov, saying he was “overwhelmed with emotions,” crawfished on his original claims before his unfortunate mishap.  Russia’s health ministry told CNN that Shulepov “is a victim of an accident due to his own lack of caution” (boy, I’ll say!), and some “suggested he slipped out the window while smoking a cigarette.”  Didn’t we warn y’all about smoking?

A physician in Siberia named Elena Nepomnyashchaya also had a nasty fall “allegedly” from a fifth floor window, after expressing her disapproval to visiting health officials over turning her hospital into a coronavirus facility.  She was reported to also have been upset over a lack of protective gear.  She died after a week in the ICU.  “The Health Ministry’s regional health department denied the allegations in a statement, adding that the hospital is in “reserve” for coronavirus patients …”

Natalya Lebedeva, head of the emergency medical service at the cosmonaut training base, Star City, also took sick with Covid-19… and then fell out of a window.  “Local officials reported it as a ‘tragic accident.’ Popular newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets reported, citing Lebedeva’s colleagues, that she might have committed suicide after being accused of spreading the disease.” 

The hospital statement called it “a tragic accident”, adding, “She was a true professional in her field, saving human lives every day!”  Doesn’t that sound just like the sort of praise one of our major corporate hospitals would gin up for that sort of occasion?

Anastasia Vasilyeva, the head of Alliance of Doctors union and possibly the smartest doctor in the USSR, sorry, Russia, was savvy enough to tell CNN “she did not think anyone was deliberately targeting doctors. The incidents, she said, likely reflect the stress doctors are under in an underfunded system during a pandemic.”  Yep, that Covid-19 can stress the legs right out from under you (if the Russians followed the U.S. model, all three causes of death were  listed as “Covid-19”).

“This is really about the destruction of our health care system,” said Vasilyeva, who has been a prominent (well, to a point) critic of the government’s approach to combating coronavirus.  At the very least, I’m betting Dr. Vasilyeva stays to the inner corridors, and gave up smoking.  

And all we have to worry about here is being called disruptive, getting fired, or having our license revoked. 

Dasvidaniya, tovarisch.

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