Russian man who made his way to the Covid hospital to look after his grandmother was forced to flee to Georgia
Sergei Samborsky fled to Georgia
27-year-old Sergei Samborsky from the Russian city of Tomsk became famous throughout Russia at the end of October. He Infiltrated the hospital to take care of his grandmother who was sick with coronavirus and filmed the terrible conditions in which the Covid patients were placed. Sergei tried to tell the truth about the situation with the pandemic in Russia. For this, the authorities began to persecute him and Sergei was forced to flee to Georgia. Sergei shared his story to Codastory in Tbilisi.
Sergei’s grandmother was 84 years old, she was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The partially paralyzed woman was entirely dependent on the care of her grandson, who looked after her every day. On October 21, she suddenly felt ill, an ambulance took her to the clinic.
Sergei tells what he saw in the hospital when he went to visit his grandmother, and what followed.
Sergey’s story. Hospital
She was in a ward with five beds, all patients had Covid. The doctor said she needed oxygen. I wrote down the phone number of a woman, her roommate, and left after about an hour. The next day I called this woman. She said that no one came to my grandmother. No one fed her, washed her or changed her diapers. The bedsores were not treated, she was not fed, she was only given one syringe of water.
I am an impulsive person, I was immediately seized by feelings, emotions, I immediately ran there, straight away.
I asked the doctor to let me go there in a normal way, I was ready to get sick, to sign all the papers. He assured me that everything was fine with my grandmother and everything would be fine. I went out and watched the orderlies go out into the street wearing the same clothes they wore inside the hospital, smoke, and come back in dirty shoe covers. There was an ambulance, I bought a protective suit from them. They, of course, have no right to sell it, but this protective suit costs 400 rubles, and they sold it to me for a thousand. It’s Russia.
I went behind the building, changed clothes, took it and walked through. There was no security, the door was open, I started filming, but no one looked at me askance. I asked someone: “Where?”, they said “there”, and that was it.
When I came to my grandmother, I was terrified. She was in the general ward, tied, her whole arm bruised, she had dents from the bandages. Oxygen mask on her forehead, dirty diaper, bedsores just anointed with some red garbage, that’s it. She had three bedsores: one on her knee and two on her thighs. The right bandage was changed, but the left one, they did not even turn it over, the left one was old.
How can this be explained? It’s indifference, laziness. And this is no exception. This happens in hospitals all over Russia, thousands of people have written to me, sharing their stories.
I spent eight or nine hours in the ward. I went out and mostly hid so that they would not ask me anything again. Somewhere a woman asked me to bring her water, there I straightened the bed linen and collected the garbage.
Sunday 25 October was my last day in the hospital. I went there. They had already figured out that it was me. I sat down on my grandmother’s bed. She told me: “Seryozha, I love you”. She recognized me for a few seconds, before that she did not remember me for three years. It was worth it.
I sent the video to the local TV2 channel. In two or three days, my story spread throughout Russia. At first I remained anonymous, they called me “the grandson from Tomsk”. After TV2 published my story, the police confiscated their tapes and called editor Alexander Sakalov for questioning.
I thought Moscow would help. I flew to Moscow because this was the last stronghold of hope.
This was my first time in Moscow. I went into debt to fly there, because I had no money. I came to the investigative committee, showed them the video. They told me: “You, of course, can write a statement, but it will take at least a month to get any kind of response”. I offered them to watch the video, said that I was ready to provide videos and photographs, and they simply said: “And what will it achieve?”
After the Investigative Committee, I went to the Prosecutor General’s Office. There was a woman prosecutor, she helped a lot, immediately ran to confer with colleagues about it. Half an hour later they called me from Tomsk and said: “Why didn’t you contact us?”. I went to the presidential administration, wrote a statement there. They sent me replies from everywhere.
While I was in Moscow, my story became national news. I was very offended by the REN-TV channel, they are the worst of all, a disgusting channel, because I had an agreement with them that they would not disclose my data – they would blur my face, my grandmother’s face, all parts of my body.
They posted everything uncensored. State channels, pro-Russian, controlled by the authorities, did this on purpose to denigrate me. I was accused that I did all this for the sake of my grandmother’s pension, that I beat her, chained her to a radiator, starved her, held her like a prisoner. All because I revealed the truth about medical care in Tomsk, in Russia, and the truth about the authorities.
Now they are trying in every way to drown me.
My story made people think that their loved ones did not die of illness, but from the indifference of their carers.
That says it all. I’m not surprised. Because here in Russia if people have a single reason to eat you, they will.
When I returned to Tomsk, the same evening I was summoned for interrogation by the local investigative committee. They asked me to give my phone to them and said that they suspected that the video was edited, that I edited the footage and made it all up. They threatened me with arrest and a search, but I refused to give them the phone.
Grandma was a child of war, she was starving, she was exiled, she was repressed. At least some respect should have been shown for the mistakes of the past. Such hypocrisy and corruption.
She died on October 30 at 7:32. The doctor called me and said that the cause of death was very incomprehensible, her circulation stopped. The death certificate indicated the cause of death – pneumonia, not the coronavirus.
I talked to a person who works in the state structures. He hinted that I needed to leave, because they are discussing the possibility of launching a criminal case against me. I buried my grandmother and left immediately after that.
Georgia: I can’t get used to the kind police
I’m in Georgia already, but I don’t feel safe here either, because it’s not my relatives who came to me. Three people came up to me and offered me to return to my homeland. These were not my friends, and I think my friends would not invite me back to my homeland. These are people who are somehow connected with the authorities.
I am a Russian person, I am afraid of the police. I still can’t get used to the fact that the police here are kind. When I hear the police sirens in the street, I immediately tense up. These are echoes of Russia.
I didn’t plan to go anywhere at all. It wasn’t that everything suited me, I felt calm, I was sure that I could pay for the communal flat, earn money, buy food, refuel the car. I thought my grandmother would die peacefully at home, as expected, in a dream, maybe that was her dream too. And in the end she died in an environment not even fit for a dog.
Today I turned 27 years old. I hope this is not my last birthday. I hope I will celebrate my other birthdays at large.