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The women fighting Putin: moment when opposition politician is forced to isolate

A new ITV documentary examines the women fighting against the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Fearless: The Women Fighting Putin, which airs tonight at 10:45 p.m., follows Russian opposition politicians as they campaign, refusing to back down, even if it means ‘losing everything’.

Violetta Grudina, 31, an ally of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, wanted to run for the Murmansk city council in April 2021, but shocking images show she is forced to isolate herself in the Covid ward of a hospital, despite that she doesn’t have the virus.

After being held for several weeks, Violetta declares a hunger strike and is released eight days later, but is eventually banned from standing.

She appears in the documentary alongside Lusya Stein, who belongs to the well-known Pussy Riot, an art-punk protest collective, and Irina Fatyanova, 32, an independent opposition candidate from St Petersburg.

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Violetta Grudina (left), 31, an ally of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, wanted to run for the Murmansk city council in April 2021, but shocking footage shows her being forced to isolate herself in the Covid ward of a hospital, despite not having the virus

Violetta Grudina (left), 31, an ally of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, wanted to run for the Murmansk city council in April 2021, but shocking footage shows her being forced to isolate herself in the Covid ward of a hospital, despite not having the virus

After being held for several weeks, Violetta (left) declares a hunger strike and is released eight days later, but is eventually banned from standing.

After being held for several weeks, Violetta (left) declares a hunger strike and is released eight days later, but is eventually banned from standing.

After being held for several weeks, Violetta (left) declares a hunger strike and is released eight days later, but is eventually banned from standing.

Five months before Russia’s parliamentary and regional elections in September, Navalny’s entire organization has been outlawed as extremist.

Violetta headed Navalny’s headquarters in Murmansk, a port city in northwestern Russia, saying: “This government has tried to destroy me and all my colleagues across the country.

“But the authorities have made a mistake. When I worked in Alexei Navalny’s team, I was not a politician. But after the authorities banned us and called us extremists, we became politicians.’

Now that Navalny’s organization has been destroyed, only a few independent candidates remain – many of them women.

During filming, Violetta plans to run as an opposition candidate in the local elections, but the pandemic is being used to try and silence her as authorities force her to hospital to treat her for a virus she has been diagnosed with. has not.

Violetta says: ‘Murmansk is a very, very quiet region and, unfortunately for the authorities, I am a catalyst for all protest sentiments.

Violetta (right) appears in the documentary alongside Lusya Stein, who belongs to the well-known Pussy Riot, an art-punk protest collective, and Irina Fatyanova, 32, an independent opposition candidate from St. Petersburg

Violetta (right) appears in the documentary alongside Lusya Stein, who belongs to the well-known Pussy Riot, an art-punk protest collective, and Irina Fatyanova, 32, an independent opposition candidate from St. Petersburg

Violetta (right) appears in the documentary alongside Lusya Stein, who belongs to the well-known Pussy Riot, an art-punk protest collective, and Irina Fatyanova, 32, an independent opposition candidate from St. Petersburg

“Therefore, every possible method will be used to silence me, to eliminate me in the elections. Because what headlines have appeared in the local state media? (Violetta) Grudina infects people with Covid.

Violetta, who can’t register as a candidate if she’s locked up in the hospital, added: “Well, they f*ck here. People support me. Everyone understands everything very well.

‘Two plus two: I’m a politician, a criminal case. What else should you think about in this country? I had a court order that had to be executed immediately, requiring me to be taken to a Covid hospital on a court order.

“So I went down voluntarily, without any hysteria or outrage,” she explained, with footage of her boarding the vehicle that will take her to the ward.

‘Here’s the coach, the bailiffs. and I, a healthy person, is taken to a Covid hospital. Good luck everyone,” she says in a video taken with her phone.

Moscow City Deputy and Pussy Riot member Lusya Stein out of court in Russia

Moscow City Deputy and Pussy Riot member Lusya Stein out of court in Russia

Moscow City Deputy and Pussy Riot member Lusya Stein out of court in Russia

“Of course I had a choice, running away and stuff like that. But they had just sawed off my door with bolt cutters and forcibly dragged me to the hospital. I’d rather walk in with my own feet.’

Violetta’s campaign manager Natasha Zamorskaya decides to visit the hospital where she is being held.

Natasha stands at the bottom of the hospital, where she can see Violetta, who remains on a ward with patients with pneumonia, through a window.

“Of course there’s no telling how long I’ll be here,” Violetta says, while Natasha suggests, “I think you’ll be there to the end.”

Violetta replies, “Judging by the mood, very long. In short, I am in a hospital, but, as it turns out, a prison, a hospital prison. I have introduced a new term into Russian political life: medical prison. And it’s just real torture.’

She adds: My job is to get out of here, find a way. Your job is to do whatever it takes to file the papers already. We are not human to them and I am not human to them.’

Finally, Violetta declares a hunger strike; she refuses to eat and drinks only water.

Violetta says, “I wouldn’t wish a hunger strike on my enemy. It’s a desperate move. There’s just no other way.. Your body dies slowly and surely. It’s pain, it’s suffering.’

Eight days later, she is suddenly released from the hospital – but ten days before the election and Violetta has already been banned from standing.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about emigration, especially lately when I was actively offered it,” Violetta admits.

‘This is my homeland. I shouldn’t leave it just because someone else wants to, because they pressure me and want me to stop my political activities. Why would I leave here?

“I don’t know, maybe Alexei (Navalny) and I love our country too much,” she concludes.

Elsewhere, protester Lusya Stein says, “To be a politician in Russia, you have to be willing to lose everything…and sacrifice your life.”

Irina Fatyanova, opposition candidate in St Petersburg, says: ‘When injustice happens, you have to fight for everyone, you have to tell the truth.’

Footage in the documentary shows one of her campaign posters being cut across her ‘face’.

Putin’s United Russia Party won nearly half of the vote in the September 2021 elections.

Analysts estimate that half of those were fraudulent, the documentary says. All other parties were approved by the Kremlin. The Kremlin has said the elections were competitive and fair.

“We have approached the Russian embassy for comment. There was no response,” the program explained.

Fearless: The Women Fighting Putin, a co-production of The Economist and Hardcash Productions, can be seen on ITV tonight at 10.45pm.

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