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A Moscow man went for a run hours before a protest. Police arrested him and broke his leg. We identified the officer who did it.

Source: Meduza

On July 27, three hours before protesters swept Moscow’s Tverskaya Street to demand fair elections, Constantine Konovalov was going on a run when he was unexpectedly arrested. Police officers knocked the professional designer onto the curb of a sidewalk, and one officer stepped onto his calves in such a way that Konovalov broke his right leg. At Moscow’s Hospital Number 67, the young man was diagnosed with a “closed internal tibial spine fracture.”

Konovalov’s arrest was caught on camera. He posted a photograph of the incident on Twitter the following day.

“Oh, look! It’s me after a 5 km run! Maybe this is the moment they broke my leg against the curb? If anyone can find any other photos of my arrest, I’d be grateful. There should also be shots out there of how they knocked me off the sidewalk onto Tverskaya.”

Konovalov later submitted a complaint to the local Investigative Committee, but the committee found that the police’s actions during his arrest were appropriate. Then, on September 17, Moscow’s Savelovsky Court fined Konovalov 10,000 rubles for breaking Russia’s public assembly laws even though he had not participated in the July 27 protest at all. The designer was not present at his own court hearing because he was still undergoing rehabilitation in the hospital.

Using social media posts, the photograph of Constantine Konovalov’s arrest, and eyewitness accounts, Meduza has determined that the police officer who broke Konovalov’s leg is named Alexander Zhuravlyov.

We were able to identify Zhuravlyov after he was also identified in connection with a separate incident. According to Ruslan Leviev, a researcher for the Russian open source investigative group Conflict Intelligence Team, Zhuravlyov attempted to use his club to hit a woman over the head during a protest.

A screenshot of the Twitter thread in which Ruslan Leviev identified Zhuravlyov. A user with the handle @vldnmrk shared a post with Leviev that accuses the police officer depicted of attempting to hit a woman over the head. @vldnmrk asked, “Ruslan, could you please identify this gentleman right here?” In response, Leviev posted Zhuravlyov’s name and VKontakte social media profile.

The VKontakte account included in Leviev’s tweet has been deleted, but we were able to find an archived version of it. That archived profile indicates that Alexander Zhuravlyov was subscribed to groups like “Police of Russia” and “Overheard in the Police.” Though the account did not contain photographs of Zhuravlyov in uniform (or any such photographs had been deleted by the time the account was archived), family photographs on Zhuravlyov’s account and that of his wife confirm that he is the officer who stood on Konovalov’s leg. The officer’s social media photos also match photographs taken by other protesters during the course of the July 27 demonstration:

A photograph from an archived version of Alexander Zhuravlyov’s VKontakte account.
A photograph taken by Yury Tyurin during the July 27 protest.

We used open-source data to determine that Alexander Zhuravlyov is a division commander in the Second Operational Regiment of the Moscow police force. He has also taken part in other police operations targeting activists and protesters. For example, it was Zhuravlyov who arrested Libertarian Party leader Mikhail Svetov on July 31 immediately after Svetov and his party were unable to come to an agreement with the Moscow government about holding a new election protest. Svetov was jailed for 30 days following his arrest.

Zhuravlyov’s name and title are also mentioned in the legal news outlet Mediazona’s reporting on Svetov’s court hearing. Zhuravlyov testified in the hearing as a witness: He said police had simply noticed Mikhail Svetov walking on New Arbat Street and arrested him because they had received information that the libertarian leader had taken part in a protest without a permit. Svetov himself told the court that “The arrest was not motivated by my presence on Trubnaya Square; it was motivated by my political position on refusing to collaborate with the mayor’s office.”

The same police officer who was photographed standing on Constantine Konovalov’s leg on July 27 was sighted again that same day, this time in a video. The clip shows Zhuravlyov calling on protesters to disperse even though police have already erected barriers to keep protesters from walking away down Tverskaya Street.

“But Tverskaya’s closed 🤷‍♂️”

Mediazona correspondent Alexander Borodikhin, who attended libertarian activist Mikhail Svetov’s July 31 court hearing, confirmed to Meduza that the voice of the officer in the video matches that of Alexander Zhuravlyov, the witness in Svetov’s case. A recording of Zhuravlyov’s testimony is in Meduza’s possession. Mikhail Svetov himself and his attorney, Mikhail Biryukov, also confirmed that the police officer standing on Konovalov’s leg is the same person as the witness who introduced himself as “Alexander Gennadievich Zhuravlyov, division commander in [Moscow’s] Second Operational Regiment.”

Meduza had not received any comments from police press representatives at the time of this writing. A phone number listed on Zhuravlyov’s deleted VKontakte account, which also matched up to his name in the identification application Get Contact, was no longer in use when we attempted to dial it.

Report by Alexey Kovalev

Translation by Hilah Kohen

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