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…”
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.
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.
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 The CMU has recently been replaced by the PUMa ('Protection universelle maladie', or universal illness protection).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.