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DO NO HARM

12,000 Russian healthcare workers dared publicly oppose Putin’s war

A Russian protester in Moscow wears a Putin mask
Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin
Many Russians dare to speak up
  • Annalisa Merelli
By Annalisa Merelli

Senior reporter

Published Last updated

As the Russian government pushes forward with its invasion of Ukraine it also continues to repress internal dissent. Thousands of people—including children and elderly war heroes—have been arrested for opposing the war, but Russians are speaking out against the regime despite the risk of retaliation.

Among those openly expressing their dissent are healthcare workers. A group of nearly 12,000 doctors, nurses, and paramedics signed a letter addressed to Vladimir Putin expressing their opposition to the war and asking for its end.

The letter, first published by MadMed, a Russian medical publication, and shared by the British Medical Journal, is signed by 11,569 medical professionals, each with title and affiliation.

“We, Russian doctors, nurses and paramedics, strongly oppose the military actions carried out by Russian armed forces on the territory of Ukraine,” reads the letter (full text here, scroll down for English), which debunks the official regime narrative that the territories attacked by Russia are being freed. “Our relatives, friends, patients and colleagues are located on the attacked territories. There is not a single person among them who would benefit from the ongoing bloodshed,” the healthcare workers write.

Retaliations against healthcare workers wouldn’t be new. In the early days of the covid-19 pandemic, Putin’s government threatened healthcare workers who shared concerns about the safety of their work conditions and the actual size of the epidemic in the country. Those who spoke up were threatened, fired, and prosecuted, according to a report from Human Rights Watch.

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