Opposition to Ukraine war grows among Russian radiologists

2022 04 04 17 06 0665 Peace Sign Ukrainian Russian Colors 400

Clear and strong evidence of sentiment among radiologists in Russia against the war in Ukraine is emerging, following the departure of Dr. Sergey Morozov, PhD, as chief radiology officer for Moscow.

Morozov is a well-known figure in Europe and the U.S., having been past president of the European Society of Medical Imaging Informatics (EuSoMII). He was also CEO of the Diagnostics and Telemedicine Center in Moscow and is a longstanding and active member of the AuntMinnieEurope.com editorial advisory board.

"I resigned from my CEO position on 30 March of my own accord," he told AuntMinnieEurope.com on 4 April. "Then the news from my colleagues came that I had been 'removed from the office' of chief regional radiology officer (CRRO) of Moscow because of my anti-war posts on Telegram channels, with a promotion of the Russian physicians' petition."

Dr. Sergey Morozov, PhD.Dr. Sergey Morozov, PhD.

Morozov said that nearly 18,000 people have so far signed this petition, including many radiologists. But because speaking out against the war is now a criminal offense in Russia, the signatories' names are obscured. He also noted that some medical doctors have left Russia, but very few of them are revealing the fact for fear of repercussions against themselves and their families.

"I have received almost 100 messages, including words of appreciation for my service, sadness over my departure, and expressions of good luck and best wishes," said Morozov, who was a professor of radiology at the I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University between 2004 and 2018. From 2004 to 2006, he also worked at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, where he obtained a master's degree in public health, focusing on clinical effectiveness.

His plan now is to continue his international work, developing healthcare and radiology informatics, new businesses, and educational projects.

"The major mistake being made now is to blame the Russian people," he said. "The influence of Russian people on state policy has been equal to zero for the past three decades since 1991."

He thinks the European Society of Radiology (ESR) and other medical societies should explicitly state that they support all those suffering in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, and Kazakhstan.

Another voice of dissent

A second respected radiologist who fled Russia earlier in March has also contacted AuntMinnieEurope.com.

“Working in my hospital has been getting worse for several years, since the last election cycle. Everyone was pushed towards certain actions in favour of party power,” he noted. “I had to resign.”

The source said he has received "many, many messages" of support from radiologists and former colleagues and friends.

"That means a lot, because human connection is the most valuable thing and that protects me from losing my humanity and protects my ability to see beauty in this world," he said.

He is not aware of any other radiologists who have left Russia.

"You have to take into account that in the culture of fear and punishment for any dissent, most people simply hide their position," he said.

When asked if he wished to return to Russia in the future, the anonymous source said he had mixed feelings.

"Well, return to what exactly? There is no freedom of the press, and narrow-mindedness will limit our ability to develop ideas," he noted. "Don't get me wrong, home is home, but home without opportunities is a cold one."

"I think the next few weeks could be devastating, to say the least. That horror has a potential to go on for an indefinite time," he continued. "I am frightened, and I don't know how I am going to move to a safer place. The situation is so unnerving. I have to be really careful in my current situation, because it takes only one phone call and all could be over for me or my family."

The source urges international medical societies and associations not to expel Russian members.

"I believe that a lot comes from exchange of ideas or simple interaction, so by reducing that might lead to stagnation of thinking, which might lead to a toxic and inflexible outlook," he commented.

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