Shoigu Puts Planned VMA Move On Hold

Shoigu Puts Planned VMA Move On Hold

Published: November 14, 2012 (Issue # 1735)

New Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has put on hold the planned transfer of St. Petersburg’s Military Medical Academy (VMA) from its historical central location to a city suburb.

The decision to transfer one of Russia’s leading military medicine schools and hospitals, announced by Shoigu’s predecessor at the beginning of this year, elicited a wave of protests in St. Petersburg. Both the city’s political opposition and representatives of the ruling United Russia party spoke against the move. The city parliament appealed to then-President Dmitry Medvedev to investigate the situation.

Sergei Andenko, a deputy of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly, said the defense ministry’s latest statement referred not only to freezing the VMA’s move, but also to the termination of the whole reform of Russia’s military medical system, Internet portal reported.

“Today it’s necessary to freeze everything that has been done wrong and to work out a good quality program for the development of the Military Medical Academy,” Andenko said.

“It should take into account the opinions of military medical service veterans, the scientific council of the VMA and leading specialists,” he said.

St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko welcomed Shoigu’s decision, saying that the VMA should remain in its historical location.

“I believe the defense minister has the right to take management decisions. I think it’s the right decision. He needs to get to the bottom of the situation,” Poltavchenko was cited by Interfax as saying.

Meanwhile, defenders of the VMA are in no hurry to rejoice.

“The freezing of the transfer is not a stop to the destruction,” said Ivan Novikov, co-chairman of the VMA Legacy organization.

“A plan for the development of the VMA is needed,” he said. “The institution should be focusing on its original purpose and enrolling students. Because the future of the academy was unclear in the past few years, the study and medical treatment processes have been under destruction. Now all those experiments should be stopped,” Novikov was quoted as saying by Fontanka.

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