Communist youth in Russia protest budget cuts in health sector

Even as Russia faces an acute health and social crisis due to COVID-19, the federal budget for 2021-2023 calls for cuts of 200 billion rubles (USD 2.64 billion) in the overall state allocation for the health sector

December 03, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Youth Protest-Russia
Cadres of the Leninist Komsomol organized pickets in front of hospitals and health department offices in various regions across Russia.

On November 30, Monday, the central committee of the Leninist Komsomol, the youth wing of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), denounced the proposals in the federal budget which call for serious cuts in funds allocated to healthcare. Protesting the proposed reductions in the federal budget, passed by the state Duma last week, Leninist Komsomol organized pickets in front of public hospitals and health department offices in various regions across the country.

The Duma adopted the federal budget for 2021–2023 in its third reading on November 26, with opposition from the CPRF deputies. The first reading of the budget was held on October 28, and the second on November 24. The current budget allotment for the health sector is around 1.3 trillion rubles. According to reports on the budget proposals, the Russian government will cut this allocation down to 1.1 trillion by 2023 – a cut of 200 billion rubles (USD 2.64 billion). The government has also called for a fund cut of 194 billion rubles to the state program ‘Healthcare Development’, and a cut of 10 billion rubles for the national project ‘Healthcare’.

The cuts in the health sector were also opposed in the anti-capitalist march taken out by leftist youth in Barnaul, in the Altai Krai region of Siberia, on November 29. Hundreds of youths from various leftist groups, including the Leninist Komsomol, joined the march to protest the anti-people neoliberal socio-economic policies pursued by Vladimir Putin’s regime in the country.

In its statement on Monday, the central committee of the Leninist Komsomol warned that “all these cuts in the health sector are happening against the backdrop of the grave crisis that domestic healthcare faces during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, across the country, there is an enormous shortage of even the most basic drugs, hospitals are overcrowded, and the ambulance system is physically unable to cope with increased load. As a result, people die en masse not only from the complications of coronavirus infection, but also from diseases which are not difficult to cure in ‘peacetime’.”

“It would seem that such a catastrophic situation is a reason to think and revise the destructive social policy pursued in recent decades. Instead, however, the authorities continue to pursue a devastating neoliberal project and ‘optimize’ health care and education. As a result, in the coming years, the already critical situation will only get worse: the lack of qualified personnel and medical institutions risks throwing our country back into pre-revolutionary Russia,” the statement added.

Russia is presently at the fourth spot in the list of countries with the highest number of COVID-19 cases, with 2,322,056 infections and 40,464 deaths as of December 1.