Veteran, 97, Follows Captain Tom With Own Medical Fundraiser

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 $56,000 AUD 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.

"Tom, I want to make a Birthday gift for you. I will knit socks. It will keep you warm as It is from Russia with love," the veteran wrote. Image: Zinaida Korneva

Captain Moore has earned more than $57 million AUD, having originally set out to raise $2,000 AUD.

"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 $63,000 AUD 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, but it has been postponed this year because of the pandemic.

Image: Zinaida Korneva

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.

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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, although 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.