Person of the Week: Anastasia Vasilyeva

Week-ending 3 April 2020

Russian doctors’ union leader arrested twice and beaten by police for delivering masks to medical staff fighting COVID-19

Anastasia Vasilyeva, the head of the medical workers’ union Alyans Vrachei (Doctors’ Alliance), has been arrested twice in the Novgorod region city of Okulovka, where she was attempting to deliver personal protection equipment (PPE) to local medical personnel. First, on April 2, Vasilyeva and her team were arrested on a highway near Okulovka and taken to a police station. Despite their arrest, the group was able to deliver more than 500 respirators as well as protective suits, goggles, and gloves to two local hospitals. Meduza, 3 April 2020

Russia: Authorities detain doctor who exposed flaws in COVID-19 response

Reacting to the violent arrest and ongoing detention of Russian doctor Anastasia Vasilyeva, 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. They justify the arrest and detention of Anastasia Vasilyeva on the pretext that she and her fellow medics violated travel restrictions – in fact they were attempting to deliver vital protective equipment to medics at a local hospital. 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. Amnesty International, 3 April 2020

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