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Three against one Federal investigators intervene in Moscow subway attack that has stoked ethnic tensions
Alexander Bastrykin, the head of Russia’s Federal Investigative Committee, waded into an incident this week that is stoking ethnic tensions in Moscow. Bastrykin awarded the Valor and Courage medal to a 25-year-old man whom three assailants brutally attacked after he defended a woman they were harassing on the subway. “Despite being outnumbered, he did not stand aside. He stood up for the young woman. Without entering into a conflict, he made a remark for which this aggressive group of men beat him severely,” Bastrykin said in an announcement. The attack on Roman Kovalev occurred on the evening of October 4 between Moscow’s Izmailovskaya and Pervomayskaya subway stations. Video of three men stomping on Kovalev’s head circulated widely on Russian social media, generating substantial controversy, particularly because the victim is an ethnic Russian man and the assailants are from the North Caucasian Republic of Dagestan.
Visiting Moscow from Voronezh, Roman Kovalev says the fight aboard the subway car started after a group of intoxicated young men started harassing other passengers. When one woman asked the men to stop bothering her, Kovalev also spoke up on her behalf. The men responded by beating him mercilessly, continuing to kick him in the head even after he’d collapsed to the floor in a pool of his own blood. Eyewitnesses captured the brutal attack on video.
After the assault, the three men exited the subway car at Pervomayskaya station, and police apprehended them soon thereafter. All three suspects have existing criminal records. Federal investigators say they resisted arrest: one man allegedly brandished a knife, while another threatened officers with pepper spray.
Local police initially charged the men with disorderly conduct, but federal investigators later requested jurisdiction over the case, intending to raise the charges to attempted murder and the use of violence against members of law enforcement. On October 6, a Moscow court jailed all three suspects for the next two months, pending the results of an investigation.
Roman Kovalev has been hospitalized with a broken nose and multiple facial fractures. On Instagram, he shared a photograph from his hospital bed showing his heavily bandaged eye. Kovalev also provided his banking details for anyone who wishes to help him financially while he’s unable to return to work.
Translation by Kevin Rothrock
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