The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations will grant two medical rescue helicopters to Tskhinvali, local authorities announced on December 22, two days after the meeting of Russia’s Emergency Minister Vladimir Puchkov with Anatoly Bibilov, the region’s Moscow-backed leader.
“There is an urgent need of sanitary aviation so that we are able to quickly transport those requiring emergency medical treatment, who we usually send to the south of our republic (to Georgia proper), to medical facilities in North Caucasus, in North Ossetia,” Alan Tadtaev, head of Tskhinvali’s emergency management agency told the local television station on Friday.
Tadtaev also noted that the helicopters would be based in the region, and that the “all infrastructure for maintaining and servicing the aircraft” would be developed “with the assistance of our Russian colleagues.” Tadtaev added that Moscow would also help the region in training “local specialists so that they are able to maintain and use the aircraft themselves.”
The announcement came slightly over a month after Moscow signed a medical cooperation agreement with Tskhinvali, extending its compulsory medical insurance program to Russian citizens living in South Ossetia.
The new agreement, head of the local “parliament’s” health committee Alan Kozonov contemplated on December 17, would “allow if not to absolutely eradicate, then at least to significantly decrease” the growing number of Tskhinvali residents getting medical treatment in the Tbilisi-controlled part of Georgia.
According to Tamaz Bestaev, healthcare minister at the Tbilisi-based Provisional Administration of South Ossetia, as of December 25, there were around 400 residents of the region who used the Georgian state-funded medical service program in 2017. The corresponding figure for 2016 stood at 679, Bestaev also told Civil Georgia.