Businessman delivers Covid-19 vaccine to Abkhazia while authorities spend 5 million euros in personal expenses
A new batch of Sputnik-V coronavirus vaccine was delivered to Abkhazia from Russia after several weeks of the vaccine shortage. However. recent delivery sparked controversy in Abkhaz society.
The vaccine was paid for and delivered to the republic by businessman Beslan Agrba. Simultaneously, government spending data were released, according to which 434 million rubles [about five million euros] were spent in 2020 on dining out in restaurants, flowers, and other similar expenses.
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6.5 thousand doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, which had been inoculated in Abkhazia since May 2021, were all used up in July. Negotiations with Moscow on the supply of a new batch have dragged on for several weeks.
The government of Abkhazia hoped that Russia would provide the vaccine for free, claiming that there was no money in the budget to pay for it. However, Russia refused to provide vaccines for free.
Beslan Agrba, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, the head of the Moscow Abkhaz Diaspora, took it upon himself to resolve the vaccine shortage. He paid for and delivered a new batch of 5,000 doses.
This news coincided with the publication of the results of the audit of financial expenditures of all ministries and departments. The information that the budget did not have money to buy vaccines while hundreds of millions were spent on lunches of officials, their purchase of flowers, and other non-earmarked expenses, caused a big scandal.
“There is no limit to my indignation. People all around me are dying from a lack of vaccines. Some of my acquaintances take bank loans that are unbearable for them to buy the damned “Actemra” for their loved ones (a drug that is used in severe cases of the course of the disease of the infected).
The family will pay off this loan for years because they cannot count on improving their financial condition”, a member of the Public Chamber Izolda Hagba said on her social media page.
“Volunteers collect money and provisions and do not have time to cover the needs of citizens and medical institutions. How can you allow yourself to do this? How do you live with it? What are you counting on, do you really think that you can get away with everything?”, Hagba addresses the government.
In Abkhazia, the pandemic situation is critical, with hundreds of new cases and up to ten deaths (with a population of about 250,000 people) being recorded every day. By August 8, in total, more than 23,000 cases have been detected, 326 people have died.