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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Governors Told to Find Funds for Social Work

President Dmitry Medvedev told crisis-hit governors to find money to improve conditions at nursing homes and boost the quality of other social services.

Medvedev, speaking during a video conference with governors Tuesday, said regional and municipal authorities could dig up the cash despite the economic crisis by “laying aside the construction of palaces, big infrastructure projects and cutting down expenses on official cars.”

Municipal authorities are directly responsible for social services.

“The figures show that the scale of tragedy is very serious, and problems remain despite all efforts,” Medvedev said, according to a transcript of the video conference posted on the Kremlin’s web site.

The president ordered thorough checks of the country’s social services in February after a fire killed 23 people in a nursing home in the Komi republic in northwestern Russia on Jan. 31. In 2007, separate nursing home fires killed 62 people in the Krasnodar region and 32 in the Tula region.

The regions need about 50 billion rubles ($1.7 billion) from the federal budget to improve conditions at nursing homes and other social institutions, Health and Social Development Minster Tatyana Golikova said at the video conference, Itar-Tass reported. Only 60 of Russia’s 83 regions are presently able to contribute funds from their local budgets to improve social institutions, she said.

Prosecutor General Yury Chaika told the video conference that about 28,000 legal violations have been found at nursing homes and other social institutions since Medvedev ordered the inspections in February.

Medvedev said the checks resulted in the discovery of 60,000 fire safety violations and 900 people being punished for administrative offenses.

Tuesday’s video conference followed an Internet-driven outcry over poor conditions in a Pskov region nursing home. The director of the nursing home in the village of Yamm was dismissed last month and its elderly residents were resettled to other places after a group of volunteers working there wrote on the LiveJournal blog site about how employees neglected the residents. The posts quickly spread around the blogoshere and into the mass media.

Medvedev mentioned the Yamm nursing home Tuesday, saying he had been informed about it on his own LiveJournal blog.