A video of Russian police physically humiliating journalist provokes online outcry

Au sol, le journaliste russe Gennady Shulga lors de la perquisition de son logement par des officiers de police le 6 février 2021 à Vladivostok.
Au sol, le journaliste russe Gennady Shulga lors de la perquisition de son logement par des officiers de police le 6 février 2021 à Vladivostok. © Twitter

In a video posted on Twitter on 6 February, one can see the Russian journalist Gennady Shulga lying on the floor on his front. He’s bare-chested, and a man wearing camo gear has a gloved hand on his forehead, pulling his head back from the floor aggressively. In front of Shulga’s face is a dog bowl with pet food in it.

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The video’s publication caused an outcry on social media.

 

Here’s what we can hear in the video, in Russian :

 

- Surname, first name, middle name!

- Shulga, Gennady Borissovitch.

- Do you know why we’ve arrested you?

- Well, I can more or less guess...

According to the Russian opposition media Novaya Gazeta, at least four political militants were arrested on February 6. Gennady Shulga was one of them. Shulga runs the media NewsBox24 and is an activist and pro-Communist blogger. He is known for covering protests, particularly the demonstration in Vladivostok that was organised on 23 January in support of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Police are now pursuing charges against protesters who blocked traffic during those demonstrations, and broke into Shulga’s home on the morning of 6 February as part of that investigation. They took his computer, telephones and other equipment and filmed themselves forcing him into humiliating positions.

'People saw that the police simply wanted to humiliate me'

In a video published the next day on the NewsBox24 YouTube account, he explains on camera what happened, saying that the police arrived at his home around 7am and the whole experience lasted around two hours. He was then taken for questioning in the anti-extremism department of the local department of internal affairs, before being let go around 1pm.

I was held on the floor [in my house] and interrogated as if I were a drug trafficker, a rapist or a terrorist. […] I knew that they were going to publish the video because they mentioned it […] even though I didn’t make a confession of any sort in the video.

I think it’s strange that they published it, because in wanting to humiliate me, they’ve basically humiliated themselves.

When people saw my face next to my dog’s food bowl, there was widespread outrage. People saw that the police doing that and filming that were just trying to humiliate me. I’m just glad that my daughter wasn’t at home at the time.

He then recounts how during his interrogation, the police officers confirmed that he was a witness to the political events on 23 January. For him, his brutal interrogation and the posting of the video afterwards are a result of a “police state”.

When questioned by the media Novaya Gazeta, the authorities refused to comment on the video.