Maternity doctors in central Russia had a hearty laugh after hearing their boss read out salaries three to four times higher than their actual pay, a video posted to Russian social media showed.
The simple yet defiant act of laughter captured national attention this week at a time when Russians’ real incomes have slumped for five straight years.
In the video from the Salavat maternity hospital 1,500 kilometers east of Moscow, doctors and nurses gasped and laughed when the head of the hospital listed average salaries during a meeting with a representative from the presidential human rights council.
Albina Fatykhova, the head of the hospital, said that doctors earn 61,200 rubles ($940) and midwives earn 35,400 rubles ($544) per month during the meeting.
“The numbers [she read] were massively inflated,” one of the nurses present at the meeting was cited as saying by the Dozhd television channel. “Our salaries are three to four times lower.”
Fatykhova later criticized the laughter as a “scripted performance.”
Officials say dozens of hospital employees had quit — for reasons including low pay — before footage of the laughing doctors went viral. Regional authorities terminated an agreement allowing a private company to run the hospital following the scandal.