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Russian Policeman Accused Of Abuse Denies Wrongdoing

Vadim Boiko said he was trying to grab one protester by her sweater and grabbed her hair by mistake.
ST. PETERSBURG -- A St. Petersburg policeman known as "the Pearl Ensign" and allegedly involved in beating and insulting protesters has denied any wrongdoing, some of his alleged victims told RFE/RL's Russian Service.

Vadim Boiko received his nickname after a video of police intervention at a protest in August was posted online. It showed a policeman insulting and beating demonstrators and dragging them by the hair.

The man on the video wore a bracelet and Internet users then dubbed him "the Pearl Ensign" before he was later positively identified as Boiko.

One of his alleged victims, Svetlana Pavlushina, said that she and several others who say they were abused by Boiko had been invited by the police to testify in front of him. Pavlushina said Boiko denied any wrongdoing when talking to the alleged victims.

In the video, Boiko drags Pavlushina by the hair. Pavlushina said Boiko explained to her that he just wanted to help his colleagues clear the way to the police bus and grabbed Pavlushina's sweater, but his hand slipped and caught her hair unintentionally.

Boiko also said he did not intend to hit another demonstrator, Dmitry Semenov, with a police baton. He said the baton slipped from his hands and hit Semenov in the face.

Boiko added that the bad language he used was not addressed to any of the demonstrators as he was looking not at them but at the sky.

Boiko could face 10 years in prison if found guilty of abusing his position as a police officer.