28 May 2020
Police launch third investigation into 'Police Ombudsman' Vladimir Vorontsov

Police launch third investigation into 'Police Ombudsman' Vladimir Vorontsov

press service of the Moscow city court / TASS

Vladimir Vorontsov, founder of the 'Police Ombudsman' media project, is now the subject of three separate criminal cases, TASS reported on Thursday citing a source in law enforcement.

Media outlet Baza had reported the news earlier in the day. According to the publication, the investigation is linked to one of Vorontsov's Telegram posts, in which the activist made fun of Sergei Kobelev, a senior police operative, by referencing his alleged homosexuality.

The case is linked to a statute on "insulting a representative of the authorities" – if he is found guilty, Vorontsov may be punished by a fine of up to 40 thousand roubles, compulsory labor for up to 360 hours, or up to one year's community service.

Vorontsov's lawyer Sergei Badamshin said that he was not informed of the new investigation.

Vladimir Vorontsov, founder of 'Police Ombudsman', an online community dedicated to exposing issues in Russia's law enforcement agencies, was arrested by a Moscow court on May 8 on charges of extortion. He will remain in a pre-trial detention center until July 6. Vorontsov has denied any wrongdoing, and believes that the case is "revenge for his public activities in defending the labor rights of ordinary police officers."

Authorities opened a second case against Vorontsov on May 23, alleging that he had "proliferated pornographic images" along with associate Igor Khudyakov and other "unidentified persons." Khudyakov was arrested by Moscow's Tverskoy District Court on May 25 – he will remain in custody until July 22.

Russian journalist Ilya Azar was detained on May 26 after picketing in support of Vorontsov in front of the Interior Ministry building in Moscow. The journalist was later charged with "repeatedly violating" a statute on mass gatherings, and sentenced to 15 days in jail. A number of prominent Russian media members picketed in support of Azar on May 28, and were later arrested. Sergey Smirnov, editor-in-chief of news website Mediazona, Tatiana Felgengauer and Aleksandr Plushchev of Echo of Moscow radio, and 'Takie Dela' editor-in-chief Anastasia Lotareva were among those detained.