The ITV new documentary explores the struggles of women against Vladimir Putin’s government.

Fearless: The Women Fighting Putin, which airs at 10.45pm tonight, follows Russian opposition politicians as they campaign and refuse to back down even if it means ‘losing everything’.

Violetta Grudina, 31, an ally of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, wanted to run for Murmansk City Council in April 2021 but shocking footage shows her being forced to isolate in a hospital’s Covid ward despite not having the virus. 

Violetta, after being held for several weeks, declares a hunger strike and is freed eight days later. However, she is ultimately barred from standing.

Lusya is seen in the documentary with Lusya (a member of the Pussy Riot art-punk protest group) and Irina Fattyanova (32) an independent opposition candidate, both from St Petersburg.

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Violetta Grudina (left), 31, an ally of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, wanted to run for Murmansk City Council in April 2021 but shocking footage shows her being forced to isolate in a hospital's Covid ward despite not having the virus

Violetta Grudina (left), a 31-year-old ally of Alexei Navalny the Kremlin critic, was planning to run for Murmansk City Council seat in April 2021. However shocking footage shows Grudina being isolated in Covid ward in hospital. Despite not carrying the virus.

Following several weeks of being detained, Violetta (left) declares a hunger strike, and is released eight days later, but is eventually barred from standing

Violetta, left, after several weeks in detention, declares a hunger strike and is freed eight days later. However, she is finally barred from standing.

Five months ahead of Russia’s  parliamentary and regional elections in September, Navalny’s entire organisation is outlawed as extremist.

Violetta was the Navalny Headquarters in Murmansk in the northwest Russian region. She said that the government attempted to kill her and my fellow colleagues.

“But the authorities made mistakes. While I worked in Alexei Navalny’s team, I wasn’t a politician. After being called extremists by the authorities, I became a politician.

With Navalny’s organisation destroyed, only a few independent candidates remain – many of them women. 

During filming, Violetta plans to run as an opposition candidate in the local elections – but the pandemic is being used to try to silence her as authorities force her into hospital to treat her for a virus she doesn’t have. 

Violetta states: “Murmansk has a very, very peaceful region, and unfortunately for authorities, I’m a catalyst of all protest sentiment. 

Violetta (right) appears in the documentary alongside Lusya Stein, who belongs to the well-known Pussy Riot, an art-punk protest collective, and Irina Fatyanova, 32, an independent opposition candidate from St Petersburg

Violetta (right), appears alongside Lusya, 32, a member of the Pussy Riot art-punk protest group, and Irina Fattyanova, 32 an independent candidate for St Petersburg’s opposition.

‘That’s why all possible methods will be used to shut me up, to eliminate me in the elections. What headlines appeared in the local media? (Violetta Grudina) Covid is being transmitted to people by Grudina

Violetta, who won’t be able to register as a candidate if she is locked in hospital, added: ‘Well, they f***** up here. I have people to support. Everyone understands all things very well. 

«Two plus 2: I’m both a politician as well as a criminal. There is so much more to be thankful for in this country. There was a court case that needed to be immediately executed. It required that I be transported by Court Order to a Covid hospital.

“So, I went down by myself, and without any indignation or hysterics,” she said. She also showed footage of her getting into the car that will transport her to the ward. 

“Here are the bailiffs, and the carriage. A healthy man, I am being taken into a Covid hospital. She says, “Good luck to all,” in a phone video.

Moscow City Deputy and Pussy Riot member Lusya Stein standing outside court In Russia

Moscow City deputy and Pussy Riot member Lusya Steen standing in front of court In Russia

“Of course, I could choose to flee and do other things like that. However, they had just cut off my door and forced me into the hospital. I’d rather walk in with my own feet.’ 

Violetta’s campaign manager Natasha Zamorskaya decides to pay a visit to the hospital where she’s being held.

Natasha stands at the bottom of the hospital, where she can see Violetta, who remains on a ward with patients suffering from pneumonia, though a window. 

‘There’s no telling how long I’ll be here, of course,’ says Violetta, while Natasha suggests: ‘I think you’ll be there till the end.’

Violetta responds: ‘Judging from the mood. A very long while. In short, I’m in a hospital, but, as it turns out, a prison, a hospital prison. Russian political life has been given a new title: medical prison. It’s not torture at all.

Elle adds, “My job it to get out here and find a solution.” You have to complete the filing process.  Their perceptions of us are not fair. 

Eventually Violetta declares a hunger strike; she is refusing to take any food and will only drink water. 

Violetta says: ‘I wouldn’t wish hunger strike on my enemy. It’s a desperate move. There’s just no other way.. Your body is gradually and steadily dying. It is pain, and agony.

8 days later, she’s suddenly discharged from hospital. But, ten days prior to the election Violetta had been expelled from voting. 

‘I’ve been thinking a lot about emigration, especially lately when I’ve been actively offered it,’ admits Violetta.

“This is my home. It is not my home. I shouldn’t leave because someone else asks me. They are trying to pressure me into stopping my political activities. Why should I move here?

‘I don’t know, maybe Alexei (Navalny) and I love our country too much,’ she concludes. 

Lusya is a demonstrator who says that to become a politician of Russia you need to have the courage to risk everything…and even your own life.  

Irina Fattyanova, an opposition candidate in St Petersburg says that when injustice is committed, one must stand up for the rights of all people and tell the truth.

Footage in the documentary shows one of her campaign posters slashed across her ‘face’. 

Putin’s United Russia Party won nearly half of the vote in the September 2021 election.

The documentary claims that analysts estimate half were fake. All parties other than the Kremlin were also approved. The Kremlin stated that the election was fair and free of bias.

“We approached Russia’s Embassy for comments.” The programme explained that there was no reply.

Fearless: The Women Fighting Putin is a coproduction of The Economist, Hardcash Productions and will air on ITV tonight at 10.45pm.