RT journalist Natalya Arkhiptseva was shot in the foot by a fellow customer in an upscale Moscow restaurant.
The incident happened on October 9, but was not made public for over a week because of the investigation.
Natalya, who is still in the hospital, said she was insulted by a drunken man while she was sitting in Prado Café in downtown Moscow. She reprimanded him and in response he drew a pistol and fired, wounding her left foot.
“I asked the café management to call security, and then started ringing my friends,” Natalya recalled. “They called the police and the ambulance. I wasn’t panicking, just sitting calmly. I realized that if I attract unnecessary attention, I may be shot in the head again.”
Natalya told RT that the management was less than willing to help her.
“The café staff wasn’t interested in how I was feeling. They asked me if I wanted a tea or a coffee. When the doctors arrived and one of them pulled off my shoe to see a wound, the café manager said, ‘Could you please not do it here, my clients are eating,’” Natalya said.
The suspect, Sergey Virolainen, 35, was detained by police and later released on parole. He was charged with hooliganism. If found guilty, he could face up to two years in prison.
He may also be charged with illegal possession of a firearm. The pistol he used was a non-lethal Makarych, which can fire tear gas or rubber bullets. However, the bullet that wounded the journalist was metal, which apparently means the weapon was modified to fire live rounds.
The head of RT, Margarita Simonyan, said in a statement that the channel will closely monitor the investigation and do its best to ensure the proper punishment of Virolainen, reportedly a relative of a high-ranking official in St. Petersburg. In her blog, she also condemned the restaurant’s managers for poor security and lack of compassion toward the victim.
Russian officials were also outraged by the incident.
“I was shocked by the cruelty of the man,” said Aleksandr Torshin, from Russia’s Federation Council. “And it's not happening on the street or at a local market, but in an upscale cafe. It's just another reason to completely ban air guns. We need radical measures.”
Viktor Biryukov, a spokesman for the Moscow Police, told RT that the issue of air guns has been among the most heated ones in the recent years.
“The number of incidents involving air guns has risen dramatically,” Biryukov said. “There have already been two murder cases this year. Depending on the consequences, different charges may be brought forward. In this case, the man had the necessary documents to carry the gun. He was charged with hooliganism, which is quite a serious offense.”