The shocking scenes were captured on mobile phone footage and show a group of burly police officers roughly manhandling Anastasia Vasilyeva, as they try to arrest and drag her into the police station. In the ensuing struggle, a woman can be heard shouting at police “instead of catching criminals you arrest doctors”, before Ms Vasilyeva is punched by an officer and collapses unconscious. She is then filmed carried away by a group of men, with people shouting at the police to take her to hospital.
Ms Vasilyeva is the head of an independent trade union, called the Alliance of Doctors, that represents Russian medical staff.
In the past few weeks, her organisation has been inundated with requests for help from desperate hospital staff, complaining bitterly about having no protective equipment or medical supplies to help them treat COVID-19 patients.
Her union has collected money through public appeals and has bought supplies of vital equipment such as respirators, face masks, protective clothing, single use gloves and even disinfectants.
On Friday the organisation arranged to deliver some of these supplies to a hospital in the Novgorod region, Russia’s north-west.
RUSSIAN police appeared to beat a female doctor
Ms Vasilyeva recorded an appeal to Putin
However, their convoy was stopped by police and they were forced to drive to a local police station for questioning.
While they were being detained, Ms Vasilyeva recorded an appeal to Putin, which she posted on social media.
In the video clip, she said: “President Putin, you have a wonderful imported protective suit, but ordinary medics have nothing with which to protect themselves.
“We collected money from all over the country. All of Russia is helping us bring this equipment to hospitals, but your subordinates stopped us and are not letting us carry out our task.
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a group of burly police officers roughly manhandling Anastasia Vasilyeva
“It looks like we need your personal permission to carry out this humanitarian work.”
Despite being forced to drive to the local police headquarters, the Alliance of Doctors team were still able to distribute their equipment, as medics from the local hospital drove to the station to collect the supplies.
Clearly irritated by this, the police then decided to forcefully arrest Ms Vasilyeva, which led to the unseemly and scandalous scenes.
Ms Vasilyeva was detained overnight in police cells and was refused both medical treatment and access to her lawyer.
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Ms Vasilyeva is punched by an officer and collapses unconscious
Ms Vasilyeva was detained overnight in police cells
On being released the next day, she defiantly vowed to continue her mercy missions to deliver essential supplies to Russia’s underfunded and poorly equipped regional hospitals.
She said: “We will absolutely continue to provide local medics and hospitals with protective equipment and not abandon them.
“As regards the police, we all know very well that they were ordered to do what they did and of course my attitude towards them is a deep feeling of contemptuous pity.”
On Sunday, Russian health authorities confirmed 658 new case of COVID-19 infection, bringing the official number of cases up to 5,389.
According to official data, 45 people have lost their lives to the lethal virus.
Experts are highly suspicious over the reliability and veracity of official coronavirus figures, with many accusing the Kremlin of trying to cover up the true scale of the outbreak.
“President Putin, you have a wonderful imported protective suit"
Some officials have warned that the real figures are likely to be much higher than currently reported.
Moscow is the worst hit area of the country and since March 30 the 12 million residents of Russia’s capital city have been in lockdown.
The city’s mayor and Putin ally, Sergey Sobyanin, is seeking to implement an electronic surveillance system of people’s movements to ensure that Muscovites stay at home.