Recently, a case of Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) officers helping out a Russian couple by giving supplies to their newborn during a roadblock went viral.
It turns out there is more to that story than initially reported.
According to media reports at the time, it was learned that the Russian couple delivered the baby in a hotel, but when they headed out, they were stopped by the police.
Inspector Sinniah Rajoo stumbled upon the couple and a baby who was not clothed at a roadblock in place for Movement Control Order (MCO) last Friday, 24 April.
After learning that the couple was out of money, the inspector and his colleague pulled some money out of their own pockets and purchased some essential supplies for the baby.
It was a heartwarming story amidst the third phase of the MCO. The photos went viral on PDRM's Facebook page, attaining over 5,000 likes, with many netizens commending the police officers' kind act.
However, the latest media report and a response from the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Malaysia shone a new light on the couple's plight
According to a Malaysiakini report today, 30 April, the couple did not live in a hotel during the baby's delivery, but at an abandoned house on Jalan Mesra, Kuala Lumpur.
The couple, Yevgeny and Natalia Pervin, gave birth to baby Ivan at 6.15am on 13 April.
It is believed that it was a natural birth with no help from any medical officers.
"Thank goodness everything was alright with the birth. If there had been some complications, I don't know what I would have done," said Yevgeny.
It is learned that the couple began their travel in Southeast Asia on 4 October 2019 and intended to return to Russia on 22 March 2020
They visited Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and China, before spending their final days in Malaysia.
However, they have been stranded in the country since Putrajaya announced the nationwide MCO on 18 March.
"When the MCO was imposed we rushed to the Thailand border but they turned us away as we did not have all the documents. This was on 20 March," Yevgeny told Malaysiakini.
They intended to wait out the first phase of the MCO until 31 March. But when it was extended to 14 April, the couple knew their funds would run out.
Thus, they contacted the Russian embassy in KL
The couple was then placed in a hotel on Jalan Ampang on 3 April, which Yevgeny said the stay was pleasant. But he did not tell the embassy that his wife was heavily pregnant.
The next day, the news broke that the Russian government temporarily barred citizens from coming back to the country to avoid importing COVID-19. The country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs was given RM27 million to help stranded citizens outside of Russia with daily allowance for three meals.
Things turned south for the couple when the embassy found out Natalia was pregnant. Yevgeny claimed the authorities turned hostile against them.
"On April 7, they offered us a document that was not in our favour and we did not sign it," Yevgeny said.
"(Four days later), we were evicted from the hotel and didn't have anywhere to turn to. We were given the wrong information that to give birth here costs USD4,000 (approximately RM17,000) so we decided on a home birth - but we did not even have a home."
It was then Yevgeny and Natalia found the abandoned house on Jalan Mesra
The couple said people initially thought they illegally broke into the house, but after learning their plight, the owner of the house allowed them to stay for awhile.
"When people nearby heard of our situation they offered us food, water, and some rigged a cable so we had electricity," said an emotional Yevgeny.
"Malaysians have been so kind to us. I met a truly wonderful Malaysian friend, an amazing man called Ken who is doing delivery of vegetables from Cameron Highlands farmers. He gave me some work loading and unloading at his base, so this can help us survive."
Yesterday, 29 April, the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Malaysia took to Facebook to give their side of the story
In a 26-minute long video, an embassy staff, known only as Pavel, spoke in Bahasa Malaysia that they are sad that they could not reach an understanding with Yevgeny and Natalia.
According to him, the couple insisted on wanting a natural birth without the help of medical officers.
"They didn't want to see a doctor or be admitted to a hospital. They want to deliver the baby themselves," said Pavel.
"This was very strange to us. After rejecting our offer (to seek medical attention), the hotel evicted them out because the couple could not present medical documents that state the baby's expected due date."
He went on to say that the couple did not have medical insurance and they are considered among the B40 group in Russia, who regularly receive financial assistance.
Pavel said the embassy offered to pay for their medical needs in Malaysia, but they got infuriated and rejected it. When offered a separate document to declare that they rejected the embassy's help, Pavel said the couple declined to sign it.
"They refused to sign the document because, and I quote, 'I was not emotionally stable to sign the declaration'," Pavel said.
"They claimed that the embassy told them to sign the paper under duress, but when the fact is the embassy was just trying to help."
Pavel said that the couple went to other hotels, but not a single hotel wanted to take them in after learning that they wanted to give birth on the premise without doctors' help.
The embassy then offered them to stay at their office, but they aggressively insisted on leaving despite being warned that it could endanger the baby.
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