A short video, made during a rally demanding the release of opposition figure Alexey Navalny on Saturday, showed a woman standing in the way of three officers in riot gear as they were escorting a detained man.
“Why did you grab him?” she asked them, but instead of an answer received a harsh kick in the stomach from one of them and collapsed on the ground.
На площади Восстания в Петербурге сотрудник ОМОН ударил женщину ногой в живот— Дождь (@tvrain) January 23, 2021
Видео: «Фонтанка» pic.twitter.com/3KNHn3uWCs
The woman, later identified as 54-year-old Margarita Yudina, was rushed to hospital from the scene after hitting her head on the pavement. Russian media reported that the medics described her condition as “serious” as she sustained a concussion and a head trauma.
On Sunday, Margarita was already feeling well enough to accept visitors, with one of them being the very cop who delivered her the blow.
He came to the woman’s ward with a bunch of flowers and delivered “deepest and sincere apologies.”
Полицейский, который ударил в живот петербурженку, пришёл к ней в больницу с цветами. Он извинился, рассказал, как за пять минут до случившегося его «залили газом» и запотело забрало. «Наложение факторов. Я не видел, что произошло. Для меня эта ситуация шоковая» pic.twitter.com/SwYqtCUSZx— NEWS.ru (@nws_ru) January 24, 2021
The officer explained that several minutes before the incident somebody in the crowd sprayed gas in his face and he couldn’t properly see what was going on due to his helmet’s visor being all misty.
“I swear to you that it’s a shocking situation for me. When I learnt what had happened it became a personal tragedy,” he explained.
The apology was accepted. The woman told the officer that he shouldn’t worry and that things can sometimes happen under the influence of “adrenaline.”
“Everybody is alive. The flowers are so nice… It’s fine. Godspeed,” she said.
After the outcry on social media, St Petersburg police opened a probe into the kicking incident. The riot cop wasn’t the first visitor in Margarita’s ward on the day as local senior police chief, Colonel Sergey Muzyka, also came to apologize, saying that what happened to the woman was “unacceptable.” Authorities have promised to provide any necessary help to the victim.