Support The Moscow Times!

Cossacks Threaten to Hunt Down Activists Who Identified Vigilantes at Moscow Protest

Moscow Activist / Facebook

A group of self-identified Cossacks has reportedly issued a “vendetta” against activists who published a list of vigilantes involved in the beating of opposition demonstrators earlier this month.

The Cossacks were filmed beating anti-government protesters on the streets of Moscow at a demonstration against Putin’s inauguration on May 5. Shortly after, a Telegram channel was created by activists to identify the Cossacks in the videos.

“They’re collecting dirt on us, trying to build a criminal case, and simply harassing us online,” Russia’s Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper quoted Viktor Oleynik, one of the channel’s founders, this week.

The publication cited social media posts naming Olyenik alongside partners Anton Gromov and Denis Petrov as “enemies of the state.”

In addition to links to the founders’ public profiles, the posts reportedly embellish the targets’ biographies with claims of U.S. citizenship and property that they visit on private jets.

“We believe that this could be part of a big provocation aimed at rupturing society and legitimizing street violence as an element of political struggle,” Oleynik told Nezavisimaya.

“We understand that since the police didn’t stop them on Pushkin Square when they were injuring unarmed people with [leather whip] nagaikas, there’s certainly no help in sight for us.”

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

As we approach the holiday season, please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world’s largest country.