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Russian court classifies case concerning deadly raid on Yekaterinburg man’s home

Russia’s Sverdlovsk Regional Court has classified the criminal case concerning the deadly raid on the home of Yekaterinburg resident Vladimir Taushankov as “top secret.” 

Lawyer Alexey Bushmakov, who represents Taushankov’s parents, wrote on Facebook that the court’s decision to close the proceedings to the press and public was attributed to the case containing information constituting state secrets. 

“The court created some difficulties for the defense: we hand over all electronics at the entrance to the courtroom; there’s no audio stream; we can only use sheets of paper issued by the judge, which are handed over to her after the end of the hearing and are kept on file afterwards,” the lawyer wrote. 

Late on May 31, 2020, a SWAT team assembled outside the apartment of a man suspected of stealing several rolls of wallpaper at knifepoint. The suspect, 27-year-old Vladimir Taushankov, reportedly threatened the officers with a knife. Local investigators told the newspaper Novaya Gazeta that law enforcement then entered the man’s home using a spare set of keys. When they encountered Taushankov inside his home, the officers fired seven times, missing him with four bullets. Taushankov died at the scene. 

On June 4, state investigators opened a case against the officers for abuse of force. One of the SWAT team members told Mediazona that Taushankov was holding a kitchen knife in one hand and a can of pepper spray in the other when officers opened fire. State investigators rejected a request from Taushankov’s parents to investigate his death as a homicide.

Forensic medical examiners declared Taushankov medically unfit.

In June 2020, a Yekaterinburg court determined that the SWAT team’s lethal raid on Vladimir Taushankov’s home was illegal. The court ruled that the authorities had violated search-and-seizure codes by failing to present Taushankov with a search warrant.

Following Taushankov’s death, several right-wing political activists promoted the hashtag #RussianLivesMatter, hoping to hijack some of the energy that’s fueled the better-known Black Lives Matter movement.

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