Moscow | The mayor of a major city of the Russian Arctic has announced on Monday his resignation after being accused last week by the regional coordinators to minimise the severity of the pandemic of sars coronavirus in this isolated region.
Rinat Akhmetchine, the mayor of Norilsk, had sent last week a letter accusing the regional ministry of Health to “conceal from the federal agencies that have the real information on the number of patients,” according to the information site siberian Tayga.Info.
In his letter, Mr. Akhmetchine said that there had been 832 cases of COVID-19 in Norilsk, while the regional ministry of Health gave the figure of 293. He complained also of the lack of staff in hospitals, forcing patients to wait hours in the hallways.
He resigned Monday, the city council of this city of 180,000 inhabitants, is situated 300 km north of the arctic circle, explaining that regional officials had attributed the responsibility for these failures.
“I have not lied and I never wanted to lie, all the information that I have came from official sources “, he said.
His resignation comes as the Russian president Vladimir Putin boasted on Monday that the situation was improving in Russia, and that the number of deaths was much lower than in many european countries.
Norilsk is located in Krasnoyarsk territory, one of the Russian regions most affected by the coronavirus. Some 11 528 cases and 260 deaths were recorded and the containment has recently been extended until the 9th of August.
Rinat Akhmetchine is already under investigation for “negligence” due to a fuel leak that caused last month a ecological pollution that is unprecedented in the region. He could face up to six months in prison.
Norilsk, one of the cities most northern in the world, is also one of the most polluted. The leak was due to a power plant belonging to a subsidiary of the giant metals Norilsk Nickel.