ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- A Russian journalist whose collarbone was broken by a police officer was fined for failing to obey police as he reported during a national vote on a series of changes to the constitution, a charge he denies.
A court in St. Petersburg on July 27 fined Mediazona news website correspondent David Frenkel 500 rubles ($7) after finding him guilty of refusing to follow a police officer's instructions at a polling station on June 30.
Police said that during his detainment, in which an officer broke Frenkel's collarbone, the journalist "provoked a conflict situation" by resisting law enforcement officers, pushing them, using his feet and leaning against walls even though video presented at the hearing failed to show such a scene.
Additionally, the court ordered Frenkel to pay 2,000 rubles ($28) for "meddling" in the work of the election commission and warned him not to violate further the "self-isolation regime" that was in effect in St. Petersburg at the time of the incident to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Frenkel had gone to the polling station to check possible violations during the national vote on controversial amendments that among other things allows President Vladimir Putin the possibility to seek new terms in office after his current one expires in 2024.
Video of the incident posted on social media shows two police officers tackling Frenkel to the ground. A cracking noise can be heard, followed by Frenkel screaming out in pain.
He underwent surgery due to his injury on June 30.
Denis Dmitriyev, the police officer who detained Frenkel, said at the hearing that he detained the journalist at the request of the election commission's chairman because Frenkel "was interfering with the voting process," an accusation Frenkel denies.
Frenkel has filed a lawsuit against the police officer, accusing him of abuse of power.
A former city official, Dmitry Abramov, who said he was an observer at the polling station, testified at the hearing that Frenkel "most likely" broke his collarbone when he fell down on the floor and the injury was not inflicted by police.
During the incident, Abramov stepped on Frenkel's leg and pulled his arm, trying "to prove" that the journalist was faking injury.
However, the St. Petersburg Public Chamber said Abramov was not an accredited observer, Mediazona has reported, raising questions about why he was there.