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Russia: doctor who called for protective equipment detained

Anastasia Vasilyeva was arrested while bringing masks and other PPE to a hospital in Novgorod © AlyansVrachey/Twitter

Anastasia Vasilyeva posted YouTube video saying doctors shouldn’t work without protective equipment

Arrested while bringing masks and other PPE to a hospital in Novgorod 

Was reportedly choked by police and hit in the abdomen, passing out as a result

‘The Russian authorities appear to fear criticism more than the deadly COVID-19 pandemic’ - Natalia Zviagina

Reacting to yesterday’s arrest and detention of Anastasia Vasilyeva, a Russian doctor and leader of a medical workers union who exposed weaknesses in the health system’s preparedness for fighting COVID-19, Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Russia Director, said:

“It is staggering that the Russian authorities appear to fear criticism more than the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Russian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Anastasia Vasilyeva - whom Amnesty International considers a prisoner of conscience - and investigate the appalling behaviour of the police during the arrest. 

“By keeping her behind bars they expose their true motive - they are willing to punish health professionals who dare contradict the official Russian narrative and expose flaws in the public health system.”

Trial for ‘disobeying a police officer’

Yesterday, Anastasia Vasilyeva, her colleagues from the Alliance of Doctors union and accompanying journalists were detained at the entrance to Okulovka, a village in Russia’s western Novgorod region. The group had brought masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for medics at the local hospital.

They were charged with “non-compliance with the rules of conduct to prevent and liquidate an emergency situation” and later released. However, Vasilyeva was not allowed to leave the police station and was dragged back inside. She was reportedly choked and hit in the abdomen and passed out as a result. A lawyer was denied access to her for six hours. Vasilyeva spent the night in police detention and is set to face trial on charges of “disobeying a police officer”.

On Tuesday this week, Vasilieva was called to the national Investigative Committee for interrogation in connection with a YouTube post where she called on doctors not to work without protective equipment.

 

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