A video showing a man hitting two nurses in a hospital was shared several thousand times over the past few days on social networks with close ties to the French far right with many users claiming that the footage showed a migrant perpetrating an “anti-white” racist attack. However, it turns out the video actually shows a Russian man attacking two Russian women.

A surveillance camera caught this footage of a man punching two nurses in the corridors of a hospital in Novgorod, a town in northwest Russia. The man had been brought to the hospital on February 23 for treatment for several cuts on his face. According to local press, he was drunk. After the assault, he was arrested.

This video was widely shared by social media users with close links to the French far right. This user wrote (in French): “We treat them and they are thankful for it, the proof…”

ont les soigne et ils en sont reconnaissant , la preuve ....

Posted by Sos Racisme- anti-blanc on Saturday, March 18, 2017
This Facebook page, which has more than 20,000 followers, regularly shares televised speeches made by members of the French far-right political party the National Front, as well as videos that are openly hostile to foreigners, immigrants and Muslims. 

Several influential social media accounts linked to the French far right shared this video, implying that the incident had taken place in France. Each post implied that the attacker was a migrant or a foreigner who was perpetrating a racist, “anti-white” attack against the nurses.


This social media user shared the video, writing (in French), "My thoughts are with all hospital workers, who have to put up with all of the idiots in this world who come to get their CMU”. [CMU, short for Couverture Maladie Universelle, is the acronym for French universal health coverage, the French social security programme for public health]. This Twitter account, which shared the video, regularly shares messages of support for French far-right politician and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, and seems particularly hostile towards the presidential campaigns of progressive Emmanuel Macron and leftist candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Easily recognisable Russian

Many social media users left comments on the video to point out that it was easy to hear Russian being spoken in the video.

Still, this footage – removed from its original context and paired with false captions – was shared more than 130,000 times on Facebook and seen at least 7.7 million times.

Many of the people sharing this video in France have a political agenda. They’re attempting to use this shocking video to criticise the system of French social services, which foreigners living in France can legally access.

While most of the people who shared this video don’t explicitly mention France in their posts, they clearly reference the French context by mentioning public hospitals and the French universal health coverage, which a social service that some migrants can benefit from.

This social media user wrote (in French), “At a public #hospital, a nurse is beaten up by a migrant who came looking for #free health care.
Barbarian.
Stop the #CMU for foreigners!"

In his Twitter profile, the user has written, "I work to reassemble #patriots to bring back France”. They share anti-migrant and anti-Muslim messages on a daily basis.

This account often posts angry messages about how foreigners living in France have the right to be reimbursed for healthcare charges through the CMU. The CMU has recently been replaced by the PUMa ('Protection universelle maladie', or universal illness protection). This programme allows people who have little or no income to receive free medical care.