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Russian Policeman Charged With Crimes For Abusing Demonstrator

ST. PETERSBURG -- A policeman who was captured on video beating a protester during a demonstration in St. Petersburg last month has been formally charged with two crimes, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The officer, Vadim Boiko, was charged on September 9 with excessive use of force and using violence or threatening violence with a weapon.

Video footage of Boiko grabbing a demonstrator and dragging him by the hair and lashing out at demonstrators with a truncheon was circulated widely on Russian blogs and news sites.

The incident took place in central St. Petersburg at a Strategy 31 demonstration on August 31 in defense of Russians' right to freedom of assembly.

Initially police said they could not identify the officer in the video. Then, after Boiko was identified, the regional police department stated that a review of his actions had not revealed any illegal behavior.

But on September 9, the Investigation Committee of the Prosecutor-General's Office of St. Petersburg announced that they would bring charges against Boiko.

Andrei Dmitriyev, the leader of the St. Petersburg branch of the banned National Bolshevik Party who attended the protest, said he wants to see Boiko dismissed from the police.

"We think that the Investigation Committee has issued a condemning message not only to the policeman himself, but also to the head of the St. Petersburg Department of the Interior Ministry, Vladislav Piotrovsky, whose subordinates didn't find anything criminal about this policeman's actions," Dmitriyev said.

Dmitriyev told RFE/RL he hopes Boiko will stand trial.