A paramedic who complained about being forced to work after contracting the Chinese coronavirus is currently in critical condition after mysteriously falling from a hospital window in western Russia this weekend.
The Moscow Times reports that 37-year-old Alexander Shulepov fell from the second floor of a hospital in the rural Voronezh and suffered a skull fracture, which has left him in critical condition. Voronezh is located 500 kilometers south of Moscow; he was being treated for coronavirus symptoms.
Police claim to be investigating his fall.
Last month, Shulepov and his colleague Alexander Kosyakin filmed a video complaining that authorities in the Novaya Usman village hospital were forcing him the work despite the fact he had tested positive for the virus. The complaint occurred after reports surfaced that the Kremlin recently forced third-year medical students to work during the pandemic or face academic and professional consequences.
Days later, he reportedly released another video walking back his comments, arguing that he was in an “emotional state.” The video also featured Igor Potanin, the head doctor of the Novousmanskaya hospital, who insisted his medical staff were being provided with sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE).
“I spoke about this to the department’s employees: I won’t let anyone go to outpatients or inpatients if we don’t have enough means of protection, I told them I’d go myself there, but I will not send anyone,” Potanin said in the video.
In a statement to CNN, Kosyakin confirmed details about his colleague’s condition.
“[Shulepov] is an intensive care unit, as far as I know in a serious condition, last time I spoke to him was on the 30th of April, we checked in with each other,” Kosyakin told CNN. “He felt fine, he was getting ready to get discharged from the hospital … and all of a sudden this happened, it’s not clear why and what for, so many questions that I don’t even have the answer to.”
Kosyakin reportedly faces criminal charges for violating Russia’s recently passed misinformation law, which carries prison sentences of up to five years for spreading “fake news” about the ongoing pandemic. Russian authorities have reported around 145,000 cases of the virus so far but just 1,356 deaths, an abnormally low number compared with other countries.
Shulepov is the third doctor to have reportedly plunged from a hospital building in the past two weeks, with the other two both dying of their injuries. The most recent of these victims was Elena Nepomnyashchaya, the acting head doctor of a hospital in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, who died days after an alleged fall from a window at the hospital she was in charge of. She had recently complained about her staff being forced to treat coronavirus patients without sufficient PPE.
Dr. Natalya Lebedeva — the head of the emergency medical service at Star City, where the majority of Russia’s cosmonauts are trained — allegedly committed suicide on April 24 by jumping from the building after failing to prevent an outbreak. The hospital called her death a “tragic accident.”
Falling or defenestration from buildings appear to have become a signature manner of death for numerous government dissenters in Russia over the past decade. Before the recent spate of falls, the latest case was that of the 32-year-old investigative journalist Maxim Borodin, thrown out of a fourth-floor window in April 2018 as he was investigating Russia’s military involvement in Syria.
Follow Ben Kew on Facebook, Twitter at @ben_kew, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.