The story of a 92-year-old woman who had to pay a massive fine after her sheep was run over by a car provoked outrage across Russia and even abroad.
And, thanks to soft-hearted viewers, it has finally got a happy ending. But questions remain…
In addition to losing her valuable pet, the old lady, was ordered by a court to pay about $US 3,000 in damages to the car's owner – a businessman from the same village in Russia’s Lipetsk region. The lump sum was far too much for the pensioner whose monthly income is around $ USD 300.
After the story broke, dozens of people offered their help and one viewer from Moscow has actually paid off Aleksandra Vdovina’s debt.
But was she really the owner of the sheep? And was it the businessman’s car involved in the accident?
Human nature is many-sided and whilst some set examples of honourable behaviour, others just remain ordinary people with their weaknesses.
It all started in August 2008, when Aleksandra Vdovina’s five-month-old sheep – just because of sheep stupidity – ran off, got onto a road and was accidentally hit by a Ford car driven by neighbour Oleg Kuznetsov. The car was slightly damaged, and the poor animal died.
And this is where uncertainties begin.
As newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda discovered, Aleksandra Vdovina and her 66-year-old son, also a pensioner, were actually ready to solve the dispute without involving the court and to pay Kuznetsov's repairs. However, they didn’t manage to find the required sum.
The businessman brought a suit to court against Aleksandra’s grandson but not against the old lady or her elderly son. Indeed, it would be easier to collect charges from a working person.
Meanwhile, the Vdovins collected documents to prove that the animal belonged to Aleksandra.
After the court dismissed the claim, Oleg Kuznetsov brought a suit against the 92-year-old, which was strongly disapproved of by the villagers. Understandable enough, people felt sorry for the old woman who was in poor health and would face charges from a 34-year-old businessman.
However, Galina Shilova, a district court judge, told Komsomolskaya Pravda that Kuznetsov is an “honourable man” whilst the Vdovins are “immoral”. Rumour has it, she said, that the sheep owners paid more than $US 1,000 to an advocate who presented them at the court.
After the court obliged the woman to pay a huge sum of money, a new upsurge of indignation followed, drawing the attention of the wider media.
The dispute over the black sheep turned into a class war: a poor peasant against a bourgeoisie who can afford a 500,000 rouble ($US 20,000) car.
And here more twists and turns to the story come. In fact, the Ford officially belongs not to Oleg Kuznetsov, but to his mother – a pensioner and a disabled person. But how come a person with low income bought an expensive car?
Meanwhile, Valentina Kuznetsova has been in hospital since the village dispute turned into a news story. Oleg is blaming journalists for what he calls “persecution”.
Who was right and who was wrong in this ‘sheep saga’? Aleksandra – a contemporary of the Russian Revolution of 1917 – who lived all her life in poverty? The businessman who dared to charge the old lady? Aleksandra’s son who made the story public?
Or maybe it’s the sheep that didn’t watch the road who should be blamed?
Not for us to judge.
Thanking an unnamed Muscovite for the help she received, Aleksandra said:
“May God bless you and give you many years of healthy life.”