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Bearing False Witness

Ilya Yashin in a Moscow court on January 3.
Ilya Yashin in a Moscow court on January 3.

So now Artyon Charukhin says he didn't falsify that police report after all.

On December 31, Charukhin claimed that opposition figure Ilya Yashin violently attacked police during a New Year's Eve protest in Moscow. Yashin spent five days in jail on the basis of Charukhin's official police report, and is now challenging the legality his detention in court.

In a hearing on February 4, Charukhin testified in a Moscow court that his report was bogus, that he didn't see Yashin attack police officers, and that he wrote the falsified report on the orders of his superiors.

After Charukhin's bombshell, initial media reports indicated that he had been fired. Police officials later said, however, that he had in fact not been sacked. His status today is unclear.

Then, in a video posted on a Moscow police website on Wednesday, Charukhin changed his story yet again, saying the original report was accurate and that Yashin and his lawyer pressured him into recanting it.

So how was a Yashin able to intimidate a police officer? This is how Charukhin explains it:

I was walking toward the courtroom and Yashin was in the waiting area with his attorney. Yashin started asking me if I believed in God and knew about the Bible [and the commandment about bearing false witness]. Then he began reading from the section on perjury from the Criminal Code and told me about the consequences of lying. They started asking me strange trick questions that I did not know how to answer.

In the video, Charukhin said he was nervous about appearing in court to begin with, that the conversation with Yashin made him even more distressed, and that once he testified, he just said “whatever came into my head.”


Speaking to RFE/RL's Russian Service, Yashin said that he found it strange that Charukhin considered someone quoting the Bible and the Russian Criminal code to be inappropriate.

In his original report, Charukhin wrote that when he was detained, Yashin was together with Boris Nemtsov, another opposition figure. "During Nemtsov’s detention, Yashin actively resisted; he pushed me and Police Sergeant Kondrashov away from Nemtsov; he did not respond to lawful orders to stop his illegal actions."

Yashin has posted a video on his website clearly showing Yashin and Nemtsov getting arrested separately with no resistance from either.


It isn't clear where this very strange episode is heading. But Yashin's video, which was shown in court, blatantly contradicts Charukhin's original report.

And according to other whistle blowing police officers, Aleksei Dymovsky and Yekaterina Rogoza, police reports are routinely falsified.

The obvious conclusion is that Charukhin's superiors threatened him with more than termination. After all, many Russian whistleblowers end up getting prosecuted themselves.

UPDATE: Despite Charukhin's flip-flops and the video evidence refuting his original police report, a Moscow court has rejected Yashin's challenge of the legality of his detention. In an interview with "Kommersant," Yashin called the court's ruling "strange" and vowed to appeal, all the way to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.

-- Brian Whitmore

About This Blog

The Power Vertical
The Power Vertical

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or


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