After Clashing With Gang, Russian Police Seize Counterfeit Ventilators
After a shootout with a gang suspected of having tried to sell “unregistered lung ventilator devices” to a hospital near Moscow, Russian authorities said they detained seven people and seized nearly 2,000 counterfait ventilators.
The coronavirus pandemic has strained Russia's healthcare system as infections have soared. The country currently has 100,042 COVID-19 cases reported. The virus has taken the lives of nearly 1,200 people while fewer than 13,200 have recovered.
The suspects attempted to sell ventilators manufactured in 1999-2000 to a hospital in the city of Gzhel in the Ramensky District of the Moscow Region, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation said in a statement on Wednesday.
Officers of the Russian Interior Ministry for Economic Security and for Combating Corruption (ES&CC), with the support of the country’s intelligence service, known as the Federal Security Service (FSB), said they initially “seized 287 FAZA-5NR devices worth over 200 million rubles (US$2.7 million).”
“The corresponding certification and registration documents, as well as documents confirming the legality of their origin, were missing,” read the statement. It added that subsequently, during searches in the Kostroma and Sverdlovsk regions, about 1,500 lung ventilation devices were “found and seized.”
“Currently, the necessary operational-search measures are being taken aimed at establishing all the circumstances of the illegal activities,” the statement cited the ministry’s spokeswoman Irina Volk.
Two suspects remain in detention while five are kept in house arrest.
Ventilators, like in many countries around the world, are needed as Russia reportedly has 42,000 to 43,000 of those devices in its hospitals, or an average of about 29 ventilators per 100,000 people.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this week that the domestic production of ventilators has to increase significantly.
During a videoconference with heads of the Russian regions on countering the spread of the coronavirus infection, he said that Russian authorities have “concentrated and mobilized” all the industrial resources.
“At the beginning of this year we were producing 60 to 70 ventilators per month, while in April this figure is over 800. There will be 2,500 in May,” Putin said.