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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Candidate's Clinic Shuts Temporarily

The world-famous eye clinic of presidential candidate Svyatoslav Fyodorov was closed for the day Monday as a result of what aides called an act of political pressure, but city authorities said the short-lived closure was caused by confusion over an insurance claim.

The clinic was due to reopen Tuesday after a Moscow city insurance company, which funds most of the clinic's operations, promised it would pay some 17 billion rubles ($3.4 million) in arrears.

"We received a fax late this afternoon from the Moscow city insurance fund apologizing and promising that our account was open again," Leonid Lennik, acting director of the clinic, said Monday. "We will open for business as usual tomorrow."

All Muscovites hold a policy with the Moscow Municipal Fund for Obligatory Medical Insurance, an extra-budgetary fund, through their local polyclinic.

The company pays for all medical care, but Fyodorov's clinic had been denied reimbursement for some 22,000 operations since February, leaving it unable to buy medicines or pay its utility bills.

Fyodorov's campaign manager, Levon Chakhmakhchyan, said Monday that the city fund had refused payment in an effort to pressure Fyodorov into withdrawing from the presidential campaign.

"This is an act of direct political pressure on a presidential candidate," Chakhmakhchyan said.

"They want Fyodorov to withdraw his candidacy, so they are trying to stir up discontent among the campaign workers, most of whom are employees of the surgery center."

But Leonid Kolosov, deputy director of the city fund, said that purely bureaucratic reasons stood behind the lengthy financial stand-off.

The city government changed the rules under which claims were paid to medical institutions in February, and the city's clinics were not paid until new contracts were signed.