New York, June 4, 2019–Russian authorities should conduct a swift and credible investigation into the brutal attack on video blogger Vadim Kharchenko in the southwestern city of Krasnodar and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On June 1, unknown assailants attacked Krasnodar-based Karchenko, founder of the YouTube channel “Lichnoe Mneniye,” (“Personal Opinion”), after he went to meet a potential source, according to a video account posted by Karchenko on his channel and Russian media reports. Kharchenko claimed in the video that two men shot at him several times, “probably from a non-lethal weapon”–such as a pellet gun or a rubber-bullet gun–hitting him in the abdomen. He also said the assailants hit him in the head and stabbed him several times, including in his right hand and arm. He alleged that the attack was related to the posts on his YouTube channel.
On his YouTube channel, Kharchenko reports and comments on protests and conducts investigations into alleged police abuse of power to his more than 175,000 subscribers.
“Russian authorities must carry out a timely and credible investigation into the attack on Vadim Kharchenko and ensure that all those responsible are brought to justice,” said CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney. “Impunity in the assault or killing of reporters is a cancer on Russian journalism which robs the public of sorely needed, independent information.”
According to the video blogger’s account and media reports, the attack took place after Kharchenko went to a meeting with a police informant who had promised to deliver evidence that a regional police department in Krasnodar was falsifying criminal cases. Kharchenko said that he was on his way home after the informant had not showed up when somebody fired at him from behind at a distance of about five meters. He ran at one of the assailants, who attacked him with a knife. After exchanging several blows and stabbing and hitting Karchenko, the attackers ran from the scene. Karchenko found a ride to the hospital where he underwent treatment for his injuries, he said in the video.
The officer on duty in the Karasun department of the Ministry of Interior in Krasnodar told CPJ over the phone that he would not provide any information on the incident to parties other than Kharchenko himself.