The dangerous incident is yet another warning to foreigners to stay clear of all political protest activity in Thailand during what is an escalating and tense situation. On Sunday night, in Bangkok, police fired water cannon on a large protest moving in the direction of a Royal Palace attempting to deliver a written representation to the Thai King.
A Russian man was the victim of a serious assault on Sunday after getting into a heated verbal altercation with an anti-government protest leader at a small rally near Jomtien Beach. Both men were later questioned by officers at Pattaya Police station over the incident.
A 52-year-old Russian man was assaulted in the Jomtien Beach area of Bang Lamung on Sunday evening as both were attending a small anti-government rally.
It is understood that the incident stemmed from a verbal argument which developed between the Russian man, who police have not yet named but is known as Vladislav, and one of the leaders of the protest, Mr Narathiwat ‘Ken’ Khamma.
Distressing video shows an unprovoked attack by the Thai protest leader on the Russian man
A distressing video has appeared online of the incident showing Mr Vladislav’s 10-year-old daughter screaming after her father was suddenly headbutted into the head by Mr Narathiwat in what was, clearly, an unprovoked attack.
In the video, Mr Narathiwat can be seen haranguing the Russian man in a one-way tirade towards the foreigner who appears to be standing smiling.
A Thai woman is seen and heard shouting at the foreigner to ‘go away’ while Mr Narathiwat exhorts him to ‘go back’ to Russia or the Russian leader, Mr Putin. It appears that the Thai man was saying: ‘Go back to your mother Putin’.
At one point, during the engagement, the Russian appears to be smiling and laughing at the tirade coming from Mr Narathiwat before the Thai man steadily advanced closer.
‘Are you talking down to me’ said the activist as he moved in towards the unsuspecting foreigner
As friends tried to hold the irate Thai protest leader back, he moved towards the Russian and began asking: ‘Did you talk normal to me’ while the foreigner appeared to be trying to mollify him by offering an explanation and gesturing reasonably.
Then, suddenly, Mr Narathiwat leaned in and struck the Russian forcefully with the top of his head.
The Russian man appeared to fall back and was visibly stunned after which he rubbed his head as his young daughter broke into screams of alarm and became hysterical.
The foreigner then began bleeding from his nose and held up his bloodstained hand a number of times calling for calm while also trying to reassure his daughter.
Russian given first aid at the scene
An emergency rescue unit responded to the scene and administered first aid to the Russian while some men escorted the protest leader, Mr Narathiwat, now wearing his glasses, to a white pick up truck parked nearby.
After receiving medical treatment, uniformed police arrived and appeared to question the Russian while taking his identification details.
It is reported that both the Russian and the younger Thai man were later questioned at the central police station in Pattaya over the incident.
Anti-government rally organised by ‘Ratsadon Pattaya’ on Sunday evening at Jomtien Beach
The rally, which was organised by a group calling itself ‘Ratsadon Pattaya’ continued for a short while afterwards with Mr Sirawith ‘Ja New’ Serithiwat speaking to the sparsely attended gathering on the sidewalk.
It is understood that Mr Narathiwat had earlier addressed the crowd as well as Mr Wanchalerm Kunsen.
The speakers delivered their remarks in both Thai and English.
It is not yet clear what the origin of the heated fracas between the two men was.
Foreigners warned to avoid all political activity in Thailand both online and on the ground at rallies
Foreigners in Thailand, in the course of the last two weeks, in particular, are being warned not to participate in political protest activity of any sort within the kingdom as the tension between the opposing sides is high.
Many Thais, involved and preoccupied with political matters, can easily become animated and highly agitated.
A very recent Super Poll opinion survey showed that well over 80% of Thais strongly suspect that foreigners and forces outside Thailand are, at least partly, responsible for instigating and deepening the widening divisions in Thai society caused by the current wave of protests.
Last week, a 47-year-old French businessman, Yan Eric Marchal, appeared to be threatened with deportation, at one point, for his online activities in support of the current round of student-led protests seeking the resignation of Thai Prime Minister, Prayut Chan ocha, constitutional reform and, most controversially, changes to the institution of the monarchy.
Foreigners disdained by both sides of the divide
This is a strongly held opinion, both on the Royalty or yellow-shirted side and also on the pro-democratic side, where significant leaders have pointed the finger and shown wariness as well as disdain for the activities of foreign governments in Thailand.
This comes as the impasse between both sides appears to be solidifying itself with police in Bangkok, on Sunday evening, firing water cannon at protesters advancing towards a Royal palace.
The large protest, said to be over 10,000 strong, was attempting to deliver a written submission to His Majesty, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, at the Dusit Palace.
There is also division in parliament over inconclusive attempts to kickstart a charter or constitution rewriting process.