A Russian doctor accused of fatally beating a patient at a hospital in the western Russian city of Belgorod was charged with third-degree murder, a federal investigator in Moscow said on January 12.
The doctor, 32-year-old Ilya Zelendinov, faces 15 years in prison for punching the 55-year-old patient who a nurse complained had kicked her, according to Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin.
He is being held pending trial until the end of February.
The patient did not defend himself against the doctor, Markin said. The doctor punched the patient in the head, and the patient fell onto a concrete floor, incurring a severe brain injury that is believed to have killed him, Markin added.
"Having an advanced medical education and experience working as a doctor, Zelendinov surely knew about the potential consequences of a punch to the head," Markin said.
Markin's statement was markedly different in tone from one he made on January 11 in which he said the doctor "stood up" for the nurse. At that time, the doctor only faced two years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.
Feeling remorseful, Zelendinov gave the patient's family more than 90,000 roubles ($1,200) to cover funeral expenses, state news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing Zelendinov's lawyer.
A video of the December 29 incident at Belgorod's City Hospital No. 2 went viral online. The video also shows the doctor fighting off a man who tried to defend the patient.
WATCH: A Russian Doctor Hits A Patient In Belgorod
Zelendinov and the hospital's head doctor, Vladimir Lutsenko, were fired over the incident, and Zelendinov was detained by authorities.
The case comes amid reports of other abuses by medical staff in Russia during the past year.