I'm not in Russia, but I'm in the former East Bloc, and the salaries for physicians here are terrible. My friend is a board-certified general surgeon and he makes between 500-600 leva ($300-400) per month... and Sofia is NOT a cheap city in which to live. He is also an ethical physician and does not accept bribes or additional payments from patients. Fortunately, his wife (also a physician) works for a pharmaceutical company and makes significantly more money, so they are not scraping to make ends meet. However, it is horrible that he works so hard and receives such terrible pay.
Because he is a surgeon, he does not have the opportunity to open a private practice, which physicians in many other "mobile" specialties are able to do. Ob-Gyn docs here do fine, because they work their public hospital jobs in the morning and then have a private practice in the afternoon, where they can charge better fees. Other specialties with private practice options are also able to do all right. But surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other specialists are in a bad spot, because they can't afford to open a private facility for their work. They either make next to nothing, resort to the unethical behaviors noted by Molecule_of_Life, or (quite literally) drive taxis and stuff on the weekends. Et cetera.
"When I haven't any blue... I use red."
- Pablo Picasso
BA, Oregon - MS, BYU - MD, MU-Sofia
Clinical Research Fellow, Universität Zürich
European Forum Moderator