February 13, 2017 / 6:30 PM / 3 years ago

Russia green-lights health clinic for treating Kremlin top officials

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Moscow city authorities have given the green light for construction of an exclusive health clinic which, according to technical plans seen by Reuters and medical sources, is designed to treat President Vladimir Putin and senior officials.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a signing ceremony following the talks with his Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool

A Reuters special report published last month described how the planned unit was to be fitted with communications systems that under Russian law are reserved for the president, prime minister and other senior figures, according to design and planning documents.

In a statement issued on Monday, the Moscow city government’s Committee on Architecture and Town Planning said it had approved plans for the project - the final regulatory hurdle before construction work can begin.

The statement did not disclose if the clinic, at the Kremlin-run Central Clinical Hospital on the outskirts of Moscow, would include the special communications systems included in the plans seen by Reuters.

The Committee briefly posted on its website detailed plans for the building. They showed wards with space for six in-patients in the whole building, as well as an intensive care ward, and an isolation ward, with one bed each.

Exterior plans published on the website showed the building would have a ground floor and three upper floors, but detailed plans were missing for the top floor. That floor, according to the documents previously seen by Reuters, will house two VIP suites of 200 square meters each, and accommodation space for aides.

All the plans disappeared from the committee’s website later on Monday, without an explanation for why they were removed.

A spokeswoman for the Kremlin’s property management department, which oversees the hospital, declined to comment on Monday on what facilities the clinic would have.

The Moscow city government’s chief architect, Sergei Kuznetsov, referred questions to the press office of state architectural concern Mosproekt. The Mosproekt press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In its statement on Monday, the Moscow city government cited Kuznetsov as saying the unit was part of a program to create new high-tech medical facilities across the city “to provide diagnosis and offer treatment as quickly as possible”.

Last month, the Kremlin’s property management department said in reply to Reuters questions the unit was intended for use by hundreds of state officials whose care falls within its remit, including but not limited to the president and prime minister.

The department’s spokeswoman said last month that detailed plans for the unit could not be disclosed because they constituted a state secret.

The construction of the new block is part of a broader program by the Kremlin to improve the healthcare infrastructure it manages. Those facilities are primarily for the use of senior state officials.

The department’s spending on building or rebuilding health infrastructure within its portfolio increased 200 percent between 2012 and 2016, according to official data. Yet spending on the state-provided healthcare used by most ordinary Russians has risen far more slowly, lagging behind inflation.

Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Alison Williams

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