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"And then they carried me off" The young woman from one of Moscow protests' most infamous photos tells her story

Source: Meduza
Photo: Maxim Shipenkov / EPA / Scanpix / LETA

One of the most striking pictures from Sunday's protests against corruption in Moscow was that of a young woman in a white coat being carried off by several Russian police officers [before being taken to a nearby police van]. Meduza's special correspondent Ilya Zhegulyov found the woman in the Cheryomushki police station where she, along with thirty other people, is still waiting for the arrival of investigators from the Investigative Committee. Zhegulyov recorded the stories of the young woman and her neighbor in the police van.

Olga Lozina

She introduced herself as "a graduate of the Physical-Technical Institute"

“My mom and sister came to the Moscow city center for a walk. At the time, we were returning from McDonalds [on Pushkinskaya Square]. Then we walked toward the Belorusskaya metro station in order to get home. But the road in front of us was blocked by police. A crowd of people was heading in our direction — [they] said that [the police] will not let people pass, and that we would have to go back. [The police] artificially created huge crowds, sending everyone who came to the Belorusskaya station back against the flow of the crowd.

Suddenly the riot police jumped out and started to grab everyone. There was a nearby flowerbed, and I jumped up to see where the boundary of the crowd was. Then riot police demanded that we immediately get off the flowerbed. Everyone quickly got down, but the police aggressively grabbed the last person to climb down, a young man, and quickly frogmarched him to a police van. My mother was there and asked, "Why are you detaining him?" Then they grabbed her, too. And then my sister. They took them, and I went after them, not understanding at the time that they were also detaining me.

At some point, the crowd pushed me back, but I came back up to the police. And that's when they carried me off. I would not say that I was harshly detained — they carried me rather carefully. I would have gone myself if they told me why they were detaining me. But I didn't even have time to ask. Then we were thrown into a police van, which was very hot and stuffy — 32 people were inside. And even when they brought us to the Cheryomushki police station, they didn't let us out [of the police van] for nearly an hour. They brought us to the station, and we're still here. They aren't telling us anything, and we don't know when they'll let us go.

Olga Orlova

Teacher and radio host

They detained us at 4 PM on Tverskaya Street, close to the Yeliseyev Grocery Store. In fact, I was detained with a whole family: first, one sister, then another, then an elderly mother. They just held onto each other. If anyone spoke to the police, they were also immediately seized. I did not resist, they just snatched me from the crowd. We all shouted "Shame!" when they were aggressively beating a young man — even though we weren't shouting obscenities and we had no signs. We were just standing and shouting. Several people with Russian flags were also apprehended and immediately thrown [into the police van].

[At the Cheryomushki police station] we started out with 32 people and there are now 22, including three minors – they are also not allowed to go, even though their parents arrived [at the station] a while ago. Now the Investigative Committee has arrived. They tried to take the kids' fingerprints, but people prevented it. One child, a 17-year-old, was given a rap sheet stating that he ran on Tverskaya Street, shouting and insulting the police. This is a complete lie. He did not do anything. This was just a nerdy-looking kid. Of course, he refused to sign it.

Ilya Zhegulev

This piece was translated from Russian by Bradley Jardine

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