Russian veteran, 97, follows UK captain with own medical fundraiser

Russian World War Two veteran Zinaida Korneva poses for a picture in Saint Petersburg, Russia in this handout image obtained by Reuters May 6, 2020. Zinaida Korneva, a 97-year-old veteran who reached the rank of senior sergeant in the Red Army and served in the Soviet Union’s anti-aircraft forces, launched a fundraising campaign towards the families of doctors, who died of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Courtesy of Zinaida Korneva/Handout via REUTERS

A 97-year-old Russian World War Two veteran has taken inspiration from the record-breaking charity efforts of British centenarian Captain Tom Moore and raised $27,500 for the families of doctors who died of COVID-19.

Zinaida Korneva, who reached the rank of senior sergeant in the Red Army and served in the Soviet Union’s anti-aircraft forces, has also knitted a pair of socks as a gift to Moore.

The British war veteran, who turned 100 last month, gained international fame when he completed 100 laps of his garden with the help of a walking frame to raise funds for the National Health Service’s fight against the coronavirus.

He has earned over 30 million pounds ($37 million), having originally set out to raise 1,000 pounds.

“You’re a strong person and a real soldier,” Korneva told Moore in a video addressed to him on YouTube. “We defeated fascism together in 1945. And now we’re battling this virus together.”

Korneva, who fought with Soviet forces in Stalingrad, has set a fundraising target of 3 million roubles ($40,187) and, instead of doing laps of the garden, is recounting her war stories on YouTube.

The clips will be uploaded regularly ahead of May 9, when Russia marks the Soviet victory in World War Two. Russia usually celebrates the event with a military parade across Red Square. Due to the pandemic, it has been postponed this year.

One video on YouTube shows Korneva knitting a pair of socks for Moore before folding them into a parcel with a letter due to be delivered to him. 

“My children and grandchildren showed me a video clip of Tom Moore. I watched it, and I really liked the idea. I decided to take up this question in Russia,” Korneva said, wearing a jacket adorned with medals. 

As in many other countries, Russia’s doctors have been disproportionately hit by the coronavirus. 

The total number of confirmed cases in Russia rose by more than 10,000 on Wednesday for a fourth consecutive day and now stands at 165,929. However, at 1,537, the death toll remains far lower than in many other countries.

Korneva said she had decided to direct her fundraising campaign towards the bereaved families of doctors because her daughter and granddaughter were doctors, and she knew the strain they were under.

($1 = 74.6500 roubles)


By Tom Balmforth and Anastasia Adasheva

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