The manager of a well-known Russian poet says she was assaulted by two men as she walked past a rehearsal for the May 9 Victory Day celebrations in central Moscow in an incident that has grabbed national headlines due to the guarded response by police to the alleged attackers.
Yelena Grachyova, manager of Moscow-based poet and musician Vera Polozkova, said the men assaulted her on the street during a May 4 evening rehearsal for the military parade attended by hundreds of onlookers.
She told RFE/RL's Russian Service that she believes the men may have been law-enforcement officers. Video footage taken by Grachyova after the initial incident shows the alleged assailants in a restaurant calmly resisting police officers’ attempts to coax them back to a police station to give a statement.
At one point, one of the alleged attackers sits down at his table and pours a shot of vodka for him and his friend as the police officers mill about.
"They looked the law-enforcement officer in the eye and called him a 'schmuck,'" Grachyova told RFE/RL.
She said the incident unfolded when two men approached her as she was walking next to the parade rehearsal on Moscow’s central Tverskaya street. One of the men pushed her and then punched her twice in the face, Grachyova said.
She said that when she threatened to call the police, the men began hitting and kicking her. Spectators watching the parade rehearsal did not intervene, she said.
"The people who attacked me weren’t scared of anyone," she said. "They simply threatened the police officer, they threatened me. They said: 'When you don't have your camera, we'll meet you at the entrance [of your building].'"
Grachyova said the alleged assailants continued to make threats at the police station following the incident. She said she suffered bruises to her face and arms.
Moscow city police said they have identified the men that Grachyova claims attacked her but declined to release their names, Russia's state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported.
Authorities are investigating the incident to determine whether to open a criminal case, police said.
Russia is preparing for the annual May 9 Victory Day parade in Moscow to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.