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Video of Russian police physically restraining and humiliating journalist sparks outrage online

The video shows the journalist pinned down barechested on the floor, his head mere inches away from a dog bowl with food in it.

Cover Image Source: Twitter/Kevin Rothrock
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Trigger warning: This article contains graphic visuals that readers may find disturbing.

A disturbing video making the rounds of social media this week has once again raised concerns and questions about the Russian police's brutality towards journalists. The 10-seconds-long video that was reportedly released by the police themselves, shows Russian journalist Gennady Shulga pinned down barechested on the floor by a man wearing camo gear. The uniformed individual is seen holding both of Shulga's arms behind his back with one gloved hand while seizing his forehead with the other. He aggressively pulls Shulga's head — which is mere inches away from a pair of dog bowls with food and water in it — as he questions the journalist about his alleged involvement in last month's demonstrations against the jailing of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

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According to The France 24 Observers, in the video, the uniformed man can be heard barking at Shulga to announce his surname, first name, and middle name for the camera. "Shulga, Gennady Borissovitch," the journalist responds. "Do you know why we've arrested you?" the man asks Shulga, to which he responds: "Well, I can more or less guess..." The Russian opposition media Novaya Gazeta reported that at least four political activists were arrested on February 6 in connection to the January 23 rally demanding the release of Kremlin critic Navalny. Gennady Shulga was one of them.

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Shulga — who reportedly runs the media NewsBox24 and is well-known for his pro-communist position and coverage of various protests — is a witness in a criminal case police are now pursuing against protesters who blocked traffic during the demonstration. The now-viral video of the journalist being humiliated is said to be just a portion of the traumatic ordeal he was put through on February 6 when the police broke into his home as a part of that investigation. "I came home from work, from the night, went to bed at about 7 in the morning. And at 7.15, somewhere the wife comes running: 'Gena, they knock there!' I knew immediately where this would lead," Shulga recounted.

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"I wanted to quickly close something in my computer, which is loaded by default. While my wife was dragging on, literally five minutes passed... You can't really get into trouble with them, they immediately started the saw. The wife got scared and opened it. They run in with machine guns, in masks... 'Lie down, b****! Lie down!' I was in the toilet, they dragged me out and let them carry me on the floor, ask questions. The operative was shooting - on the 11th iPhone, as I noticed," he continued. "They said that for internal use. Handcuffed. I showed them my passport - and they started the search."

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Shulga said that the police took away his equipment including a working laptop and telephones for investigation and that they were at his house for around two hours. In a video published the day after the police raid on the NewsBox24 YouTube account, he explained that he was then taken for questioning in the anti-extremism department of the local department of internal affairs, before being let go around 1 pm. "I was held on the floor [in my house] and interrogated as if I were a drug trafficker, a rapist, or a terrorist. […] I knew that they were going to publish the video because they mentioned it […] even though I didn't make a confession of any sort in the video," he said in the video.

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"I think it's strange that they published it because in wanting to humiliate me, they've basically humiliated themselves," Shulga added. "When people saw my face next to my dog's food bowl, there was widespread outrage. People saw that the police — [by] doing that and filming that — was just trying to humiliate me. I'm just glad that my daughter wasn't at home at the time."

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