21 Oct 2020 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 21 Oct 2020 n° 123/2020 Russian Federation

Journalist Sergey Plotnikov Abducted, Questioned, Beaten, then Released in Russia’s Far East

Source of threatUnknown
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner CPJ Article 19 EFJ/IFJ RSF
No state reply yet
Partner CPJ Article 19 EFJ/IFJ RSF
On 15 October 2020, at about 8 p.m., seven unidentified masked men abducted journalist Sergey Plotnikov on the street near his home in Khabarovsk, drove him to a forest outside the city, beat him up and threatened to kill him, and then abandoned him, according to news reports.
Plotnikov works for RusNews, an independent YouTube-based outlet that has covered recent protests, and which has about 97,000 followers. Protests have been ongoing in the Russian Federation’s far east since 9 July, when the region’s former governor, Sergey Furgal, was arrested for his alleged involvement in murders in the early 2000s.
In the morning of 16 October, Plotnikov filed a complaint to the Khabarovsk Investigative Committee, which opened an investigation into his abduction.
Plotnikov said the men forced him into a minibus, placed him face down on the floor, handcuffed him, and made him unlock his phone. They searched the phone’s contents.
They also questioned him about the recent protests, asking him for information about the organisers and leaders, and demanding that he provide them with information about any future protests. Plotnikov said he maintained that he did not have any inside information regarding the protests and only covered them as a journalist. During the drive out of the city, the men hit and kicked him, giving Plotnikov numerous bruises on his body and abrasions on his head, arms, and body. When they arrived in the forest, the men took Plotnikov out of the vehicle and one shot a gun near his right foot, saying that “next time it would be your head.” The kidnappers took him to a cemetery, returned his phone, took off the handcuffs, and left. Plotnikov then contacted his friends and family.
On 16 and 18 October, Plotnikov received anonymous messages via Telegram from someone who claimed to be among the men who had kidnapped him. The messages insulted the journalist, and said that “things would get worse later” and that he should “look over his shoulder when walking.”
Plotnikov reported the threats to the Investigative Committee and asked to be provided with police protection, as he feared for his life; but no protection has been provided as of today. CPJ emailed the Khabarovsk Investigative Committee for comment, but did not receive any response.
Open in a new window show-link