Life was being made easier for Muscovites – who have comparatively good healthcare – to keep them happy and prevent them protesting against authorities, he said. “Moscow lives off the rest of Russia. And who is this done to protect?” He pointed to the sky, a reference to the man who has ruled over the country for the last two decades.

Ilinskoe is not the only village in the area where medical care has been scaled back. In the neighbouring village of Kudinovo, there is now a single doctor for a population of some 3,000, after a second doctor recently left for private practice and a medical assistant died.

On a weekday morning, dozens of people were waiting in a cramped reception to see the remaining Doctor Galina Ryzehnkova, some for more than two hours. Only one was wearing a mask, despite the ongoing pandemic; out-of-date posters advised patients to inform the doctor if they had been to China or in contact with Chinese citizens over the past two weeks.

“It’s like this every day,” said Dr Ryzhenkova, after appointments with around 50 children and 20 adults. Despite the added workload because of a lack of staff, she described herself as a “patriot” and said she was proud to have worked in Kudinovo for the last 30 years.

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