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A death on the Neva caused by three packets of butter

February 06, 2015, 0:48 UTC+3
In St Petersburg an 81-year-old woman, who survived the 900-day Siege of Leningrad by Nazi troops from 1941 through 1944, died in a police department
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© Архив ИТАР-ТАСС/Марина Лысцева

MOSCOW, February 5. /TASS/. Public quarters in Russia have been shocked and disdained by a drama in St Petersburg where an 81-year-old woman, Rauza Galimova, who survived the 900-day Siege of Leningrad by Nazi troops from 1941 through 1944, died in a police department of heart failure unable to sustain accusations with an alleged stealing of three packets of butter.

The incident, in which Ms. Galimova was taken to the police department and the conduct of shop managers who seemed to be oblivious of the woman’s very advanced age, grew over into a resounding scandal, with most participants in the nationwide discussion saying they were simply shocked.

Were the actions of the store managers and police officers justified even in a hypothetical case where butter would have been stolen? The question is particularly acute given the absence of the any firm evidence of shoplifting.

Russia’s Investigations Committee has opened a criminal case over Ms. Galimova’s death citing "death through incautiousness" as the cause.

Vladimir Markin, the official spokesman for the Investigations Committee told TASS on Thursday the woman was taken to the police station on Tuesday, February 3, upon suspicion of stealing three packets of butter. Once in the police station, she told the officers she was not feeling well, after which they called up emergency medics.

However, the emergency aid crew failed to rescue the 81-year-old woman’s life.

Markin promised a very tough legal assessment to the actions of all the individuals guilty of the elderly woman’s death.

In the meantime, the Prosecutor’s Office of St Petersburg has not found any evidence of shoplifting.

"There are no sufficient grounds to claim that she stole the butter," Marina Nikolayeva, a public relations officer at the city prosecutorial office told TASS.

The prosecutors say that Rauza Galimova might have failed to notice someone else’s buys, which had somehow gotten under her bag.

"The senior manager of the store insisted that the woman was to be taken to police because she didn’t have IDs on her," Nikolayeva said.

Data has been received on Galimova’s big enough pension, which means she had enough money and was not needy, LifeNews television channel said quoting officials from her municipal district. Moreover, she lived with her nephew who gave enough assistance to her.

No violations in the actions of police officers have been found so far.

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