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One of Russia’s richest lawmakers donated 50 ventilators to a hospital for coronavirus patients, but the machines expired 15 years ago

Source: Meduza
Pytor Kovalev / TASS / Scanpix / LETA

State prosecutors in the city of Vladimir have asked federal investigators to examine the provision of expired ventilators to a local hospital treating coronavirus patients, requesting a criminal case for the alleged large-scale distribution of substandard medical devices. 

Following news reports about problems with the ventilators, the Vladimir District Attorney’s Office inspected the machines and learned that the 50 “FAZA - 5 HP” devices recently acquired by Hospital № 6 for 6 million rubles ($78,420) expired more than 15 years ago. The audit revealed that these machines lack the necessary paperwork and valid registration certificates, as well. “These devices did not undergo specialized maintenance services,” prosecutors concluded. 

Without maintenance and repairs, “FAZA - 5 HP” ventilators have a reported shelf life of 4-5 years. 

Officials have not publicly identified the supplier of these 20-year-old devices, but the website ProVladimir reported on April 15 that Hospital № 6 may have acquired the ventilators thanks to Grigory Anikeyev, the wealthiest member of Russia’s State Duma in 2018. 

On April 6, Anikeyev’s charity group, “Mercy and Order,” announced that he had purchased 50 ventilators and transferred them to the Vladimir region’s Health Department for distribution to local hospitals. According to ProVladimir, Anikeyev acquired the machines for 6 million rubles. On April 14, Anikeyev acknowledged that the ventilators he bought were manufactured in 1999, but he promised an independent technical examination and said: “They’re new, never before used, and were in storage the whole time,” while emphasizing that “these devices are intended for use only in emergencies.” 

Spokespeople for the Vladimir governor’s office have assured the news agency RIA Novosti that Hospital № 6 is equipped with ventilators that are fully capable of providing life support to patients suffering respiratory failure. Officials say the hospital’s ventilators were delivered from other medical facilities, not purchased.

Vladimir Health Department Director Alexey Mozalev told reporters that charity groups have offered different ventilators to doctors in the region, “but these devices turned out to be designed for other types of assistance and were not accepted for service by our physicians.”

Story by Alexander Baklanov

Translation by Kevin Rothrock

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