Paris, May 31, 2022 — Russian authorities should swiftly investigate the assault of journalist Pyotr Ivanov and hold the perpetrators to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.
On Monday evening, two unidentified men attacked Ivanov, a reporter with the independent news outlet SOTA, near his apartment in the northwestern Russian city of St. Petersburg, according to his outlet and SOTA editor Aleksei Obukhov, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.
The two men were waiting by the entrance to Ivanov’s apartment building when he came home, according to those sources and Ivanov, who spoke to his outlet in a video. The men grabbed Ivanov, beat him with their fists and kicked him after the journalist fell to the ground, took a picture, asked, “Are you going to do any more f—– up s—?” and then ran away.
Obukhov told CPJ that Ivanov was well-known in St. Petersburg as a SOTA journalist and that he strongly believed the beating was linked to his journalistic activities.
“CPJ is shocked by and strongly condemns the violent attack on SOTA journalist Pyotr Ivanov. SOTA is one of the few remaining independent media outlets with journalists still present on Russian soil to report on the situation inside the country,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Russian authorities must do everything to find the perpetrators of the assault and hold them accountable.”
In the video, Ivanov stated that his attackers hit him in the head and that one of them was wearing a dark jacket, a mask, and a black hat. On Tuesday, the Telegram channel Baza published a video from surveillance cameras near Ivanov’s home showing the attack and two men, one of whom was wearing dark clothing, running from the scene.
Ivanov further stated that he believed his attackers’ initial plan was to douse him with a green-blue toxic dye, which the masked man was holding and threw to the ground when he started to hit the journalist. Ivanov was hospitalized and diagnosed with a nasal fracture and facial contusions, SOTA reported.
Ivanov filed a report to the police and gave them the bottle as evidence for fingerprints, he told his outlet. Ivanov’s neighbors told SOTA that “three guys, wearing camouflage clothing and balaclavas” had been seen keeping watch at his building entrance for the past two days from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
On May 31, the police opened a criminal case under part 2 of Article 115 of the criminal code for intentional harm to health induced by hooliganism, according to SOTA and Obukhov. The punishment under this section is up to 2 years imprisonment. CPJ could not contact the Russian Interior Ministry for comment because its website did not load.