Fri, 23 Aug 2019

Russia's National Guard is distancing itself from video footage that shows a uniformed officer punch a detained female protester in the stomach during an August 10 demonstration in Moscow.

The Moscow-based Govorit Moskva radio station on August 12 quoted a National Guard statement as saying that 'the employees in the video footage do not belong to Russian National Guard's units.'

The statement did not specify which law-enforcement unit the officers belong to.

The video, widely circulated on the Internet, shows two men in uniforms taking a young woman they've detained -- identified as Daria Sosnovskaya -- toward a police van.

The woman appears to try to kick a police baton lying on the street while one of the officers is trying to pick it up. The uniformed officer staggers the woman with a punch in her stomach and grabs the baton from the ground before shoving her into a police van seconds later.

On August 11, Russian civil-rights lawyer Pavel Chikov of the legal-aid group Agora offered a reward of 100,000 rubles ($1,526) for help identifying the officer who punched Sosnovskaya.

"It doesn't matter if the investigations establish the concrete person who caused the harm. He is a representative of the state. Regardless of the outcome, the Russian state will have to pay. And we will make it happen for sure," Chikov said.

Russian officers are rarely disciplined for using excessive and disproportionate force against demonstrators.

Police and other security officers have been criticized in Russia and abroad for their rough treatment of peaceful protesters in Moscow during the past month, including beating them with clubs.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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