Moscow: Three armed men broke out a female patient from one of Moscow's most famous psychiatric hospitals in a daring raid believed to have been led by the woman's fiance.
The woman, Anna Pavlenkova, reported to be 32 or 34 years old, escaped from the Gannushkin Hospital after a visit from the three men.
The four attempted to leave together, but when hospital staff intervened, the men sprayed some sort of gas and shot into the air with non-lethal firearms, the Lenta.ru website said.
Despite an intense police search, all four were still on the run till Wednesday.
Police have opened a criminal case, tentatively classifying the incident as "hooliganism", a Moscow police spokesman said.
The escape was allegedly led by Pavlenkova's fiance, Anton Brin, 26, after her relatives placed her in the hospital against her will, reportedly citing strange behaviour and tendency to wander aimlessly, which led to a diagnosis of "psychosis".
"If the hospitalization was unjustified, the doctors will bear criminal responsibility," Yury Polishchuk, head of the hospital's clinical unit, was quoted by Lenta.ru as saying.
Russian media had fun with the story, running it under headlines such as "One Flew Over the Gannushkin Nest" and "Romeo Faces 7 Years for Kidnapping Juliet from a Psychiatric Hospital".
If found guilty on hooliganism charges, the perpetrators could face up to seven years behind bars.