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Russian Official Bodyslams Reporter Asking About Corruption, Faces Jail

Sergei Zaytsev Screenshot Vesti

A district head in Siberia is under investigation for body-slamming a state-run television journalist during an interview featuring questions about corruption allegations.

The Rossia 24 news channel showed Sergei Zaytsev, who heads the Shirinsky district in the republic of Khakasia, snatching the reporter’s microphone and throwing him to the ground. Zaytsev told local media that he had been provoked by the news crew when they questioned him about corruption linked to rebuilding efforts following deadly wildfires in 2015.

Russia’s Investigative Committee announced on Monday that it had opened a criminal case into Zaytsev following the incident. He faces up to six years behind bars on charges of “obstructing lawful professional journalistic activities.”

“In his office, Zaytsev was dissatisfied with attempts to gain information, pushed the journalist and, grabbing his clothes, threw him to the floor, causing the victim physical pain,” the committee said.

At least 30 residents were believed to have died and 5,000 left homeless as a result of the 2015 wildfires. A local fire chief was arrested for negligence in failing to personally arrange for residents and their property to be saved from the spate of wildfires.

Update: The general council of the ruling United Russia party has expelled Zaytsev from the party, the state-run RIA Novosti news outlet reported on Monday.

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