MOSCOW, January 24 (RIA Novosti) – After a public outcry, St. Petersburg’s unique children’s cancer treatment center is not on the list of possible facilities to be converted into a hospital for Russian judges, a presidential administration spokesman said on Thursday.
“In response to a number of requests from State Duma and St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly deputies, as well as from St. Petersburg residents, the Russian presidential affairs department informs that, according to the information provided by the city administration of St. Petersburg and the Russian Health Ministry, the City Hospital No. 31 is not being considered as a possible site to house the future medical center for judges and staff of Russia’s Supreme and [Supreme] Arbitration courts,” presidential administration spokesman Viktor Khrekov said.
The news that one of the largest and best equipped hospitals in St. Petersburg is to be relocated to accommodate a clinic for Supreme Court and Supreme Arbitration Court staff after they move to St. Petersburg from Moscow shocked both City Hall and the general public late last year. For many days, St. Petersburg residents rallied and collected signatures against the move.
A petition to protect the hospital gathered more than 100,000 signatures in a few days.
Judges and employees of Russia’s Supreme Arbitration Court have also signed their own petition against the hospital’s possible closure, said Andrei Yegorov, a top-ranking administration official of the court.
St. Petersburg governor spokesman Andrei Kibitov, St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly speaker Vyacheslav Makarov and the city’s former governor and now Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko also assured on Wednesday that the hospital won’t be closed.
Participants of Wednesday’s evening rally against the hospital’s closure, in which more than 1,000 people took part, said they would press for an official document to affirm that the facility remains in its place. The document should be signed either by presidential administration chief Vladimir Kozhin or by St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko.
The relocation of courts to St. Petersburg is being organized by a special working group led by the presidential administration chief. Possible sites for the medical facility are proposed by St. Petersburg city administration.