May 23, 2014

Crimean Tatars: Solidarity Protester Stabbed At 70th Deportation Commemoration

While several Ukrainians pacifically gathered in Eastern Ukraine to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Crimean Tatars’ deportation, a Russian nationalist took this opportunity to physically attack one of the pro-Crimean Tatar protesters, cutting through his placard and injuring him with a knife.

Below is an article published by The St. Petesburg Times:

A Russian nationalist who was allegedly on his way to join pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine stabbed a pro-Crimean Tatar protester on Nevsky Prospekt Sunday [18 May 2014].

Activist Miroslav Romanov, who took part in a series of one-man protests to mark the 70th anniversary of the Soviet deportations of Crimean Tatars, was attacked at around 4 p.m. while standing with a placard that read “We demand a recognition of Stalin’s deportation of these people as a crime, and its organizers and participants as war criminals.”

Speaking to The St. Petersburg Times on Monday [19 May 2014], Romanov said that the attacker did not utter a word as he attacked the placard with a knife, injuring Romanov in the process.

“Before that he started to quarrel [with other demonstrators], threatening to ‘bring the boys,’ and then he came up to me, stabbed me and walked away,” Romanov said.

“He cut through the placard and the knife slipped and cut my shirt, the left part of my stomach and my bag. Actually, the bag is what saved me. He used all his power, downward, with his right arm.”

Despite receiving a flesh wound, Romanov refused to be hospitalized when an ambulance arrived 15 minutes later to give first aid.

According to Romanov, the attacker was detained by Solidarity co-chairman Konstantin Yershov and police officers who were nearby. “They acted promptly; it’s lucky that the police were around, otherwise he would have fled,” said Romanov.

The accused attacker is Ruslan Pseush, a resident of Yelizavetino in the Gatchinsky District of the Leningrad Oblast.

A further police search revealed that Pseush was carrying several knives. According to Romanov, Pseush denied attacking him at first, but later “started bragging and posing as a hero,” he said.

An inquiry officer told Romanov that Pseuch would be kept in custody for the time being, he added.

According to Yershov, Pseush, while detained at the police station, insisted that he had the right to object to the protests on Nevsky Prospekt. “He didn’t deny that he was swinging with a knife. Instead he insisted that he was aiming for the placard only, with no intention to inflict bodily harm unto anyone,” Yershov told The St. Petersburg Times on Monday [19 May 2014].

In his blog on Russian social network VKontakte, Pseuch had posted anti-Ukrainian remarks and urged people to go to Ukraine to join pro-Russian insurgents. His most recent postings suggest that he was planning to go to Ukraine’s unstable areas himself.

“Everything’s great. I am leaving for the south. The ticket is in my pocket,” he wrote on May 16 [2014]. At 11:36 a.m. on Sunday [18 May 2014], the day of the attack, he wrote, “I am off... Good luck to everyone!”

Pseuch’s profile page also heavily features photos of him posing in army uniform with weapons and knives, while several photos showed him giving a Nazi salute. His “friends” on the social network include Alexander Barkashov, the leader of the neo-Nazi movement Russian National Unity (RNE), which is believed to be assisting in transporting Russian militants to south eastern Ukraine.

When Pseuch was detained after the attack, he had a train ticket to Rostov-on-Don, the largest nearest Russian city to the Ukrainian border, Solidarity activists said.