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The trial of Vitaly Koltsov – cultural-radical protest 

About the case: Vitaly Koltsov is accused of attempting on the lives of a law enforcement officers, as well as of intentional damage to property for hooligan motives by arson. Although the defendant admits to the crime, he denies the charge of the attempted murder of twelve OMON (Special Purposes Mobile Unit (SPMU) officers, since there was no intent.

The case is being tried by a jury in the Moscow City Court. The judge is Vitaly Alexandrovich Belitsky.

Before the hearing started, everyone except the press had their passports collected, then brought them out and handed them. The hearing started an hour later, the reason was not announced – first they waited for the jury, then they waited for the passports to be checked, then for the prosecutors.

Prosecutors – Zalezlov, Zodchik.

Lawyers – Gramazov, Alekseev.

Victims – Sidorov (driver), Kuznetsov (OMON (Special Purposes Mobile Unit (SPMU) department “Rusich” of the Main Directorate of the Moscow region Rosgvardia), Alexei Anatolievich Ragustov (platoon commander), another could not be heard.

The participants were informed of their rights.

The judge spoke into the microphone, but so softly and indistinctly that only a few words could be distinguished.

The victims filed motions to close the hearing. The judge asks for the reasons. The victims are saying it’s for the safety of the families. All the victims agree. Zodchik asks to support the victims, the judge asks to let everyone speak first. After all victims have spoken, Zodczyk says that releasing the victims’ data could have a bad impact on the victims’ lives and the lives of their families. The second prosecutor agrees.

The defense attorneys disagree and say that the data has already been spoken out loud, there is no longer any secrecy involved, and that this is a reason the defense attorney considers unreasonable. The second lawyer also agrees that they can ask for a public defense if necessary. The lawyer adds that the hearing was not closed before and is not closed now, and if the victims are afraid, they should ask for a public defense. The defendant supports the arguments of his lawyers.

The court denied the request of the victims.

The defense attorney requests that the defendant be allowed to make an opening statement as well, on an equal footing with the defense. A member of the prosecution says something, but it is not clear. The judge asks several times if there is anything to discuss before the jury is summoned.

The jurors are summoned and they are being informed of their rights.

Prosecutor Zalezlov makes an opening statement.

Koltsov holds oppositional views and is against administrative liability enforcement, has a bad attitude toward police officers. He made a criminal plan. He bought gasoline, found information on how to make Molotov cocktails and with their help decided to commit arson. The officers of the OMON operational battalion, the main department of the Rosgvardia in Moscow, were on duty. The car was marked “police”. After Koltsov had collected the components, he made two bottles and took them to Red Square, hiding them in a diplomat. There were people there, not just employees; it was May 2. He knew that law enforcement officers were there. He approached the Rosgvardia vehicles. There were policemen in the buses and near them he threw a bottle into each bus. Furthermore, despite his resistance and attempts to flee, he was arrested. There will be more evidence presented in the future. And you [the jury] will have to decide and render a verdict.

The prosecutor waives her speech.

The judge asks the lawyer to speak. The lawyer asks Koltsov to speak first, but the judge demands a coordinated position.

Gramazov explains what they’re “charging” Koltsov with. The judge interrupts and demands to express a position, not to repeat. Gramazov continues: the accusation says he wanted to kill 12 people. The judge repeats the demand. This happens three more times, after which Gramazov says that Alexeev will explain the position in more detail.

Alexeev says it’s time to present the defense’s position. Koltsov partially admits guilt. Koltsov, indeed prepared for the crime, found bottles. The judge stops the lawyer.

Alexeev continues, saying he was present and committed arson. He says Koltsov doesn’t deny this, but the prosecutor’s assistant says it’s not argumentative. The judge warns the lawyer. Alexeev continues and says Koltsov didn’t want to kill the employees. The judge makes another remark.

Regarding the evidence examination procedure, Alexeev says there’s no difference in that. The accusation claims the lawyer should be warned for neglecting the criminal code. The lawyer asks why the warning was issued. The judge says it’s because the assistant voiced it.

Koltsov specifies how he can express himself – how much time he has. The judge asks to express his position – whether he admits guilt or not, partially or in what manner. Koltsov starts and says he committed the crime – arson. Specifically, in protest against the prohibition of assembly freedom, he set fire to a bus where detainees are placed. The judge asks not to give testimony but to express an attitude toward the accusation. Koltsov continues, saying it was stated here that he deliberately tried to kill 12 employees, and that was the goal. Koltsov rejects this accusation. If death occurs during a political action, it discredits the protest itself, he explains. The judge stops him and asks if he expressed his position. Koltsov sits silently. The judge asks if the lawyer’s opening remarks were coordinated with him. He answered they were coordinated.

Prosecutor Zodchyk asks to begin the questioning of the victim, Ragustov Alexey Anatolyevich.

The judge asks if he knows the defendant. The victim says he does because he apprehended him, but has no reason for slander.

The victim’s rights are read out, and then the peculiarities of giving testimony with the jurors are further explained.

Questioning performed by the prosecutor.

– When did the meeting with Koltsov take place? Where were you?

– The meeting took place on May 2, 2022, and on that day, I was on public order duty in Moscow.

Prosecutor’s colleague:

– Explain what your occupation is.

– I am an employee of the National Guard “Avangard” [that’s what the OMON unit is called, editor’s note]. On that day, we were assigned to maintain public order in Moscow. The location was Moscow, Revolution Square, near the metro.”


– What was there, and how did you arrive?

– I was part of a unit with 13 colleagues. We arrived in 2 police buses, conducting duty from 12 PM to 12 AM. At around 6:50 PM, I was near our transport when I heard…

Prosecutor’s colleague: 

– Explain the part about transport. Are you responsible for it?

– Yes, we are responsible for it, as well as for all the property. At around 6:50 PM, I heard the driver, Sidorov, shouting ‘attack.’ At that moment, I heard the sound of broken glass and saw that one of our transports at the rear was on fire.


– Explain, what’s in the rear compartment?

– The engine compartment is at the front, and the rear contains space for the staff and detainees. The initial fire occurred in the rear of the bus.

Prosecutor’s colleague:

– Describe the surroundings, where you and your colleagues were. If it’s more convenient, you can sketch it.

Prosecutor’s assistant suggests the witness can sketch. The victim says he’s ready with the judge’s permission. The judge leaves, and while they’re away, the jurors are asked to exit. The judge returns, asks the opinion of the lawyers, and they don’t object. The judge asks the jurors to leave; the decision will be made later. The prosecution mentions they specifically want sketching at this stage. The judge mumbles something under his breath. The jurors are invited back into the room, and a board with sheets is prepared.

This is the final version of the drawing. There was a fence around the square where the police buses were parked, but it was passable; you could go through it. Both buses were also fenced off, but it was possible to pass by moving the barrier aside. The buses were labeled as “1” and “2,” and numbers were written on them.

The interrogation is conducted by the prosecutor’s colleague:

– Where were you, where was the bus, where were your colleagues?

The victim draws and shows where the buses were, stating that the buses were fenced off.

 – You drew fences, and in the corner, there are two buses, is that the barrier for the two buses?

 – No, that’s the parking area for the shopping center visitors.

 – Were there other cars there?

 – Yes, there were civilian cars parked there.

 – There were two SPMU buses?

 – Yes, two.

The victim asks if he can continue. The prosecutor nods.

– Our buses were fenced off as well.

– Where is the entrance to the parking lot?

– The entrance was unobstructed; you could walk through.

– Who was supposed to patrol around the buses?

I believe this time it was supposed to be Kuznetsov.

– Where were you?

– We were chatting here [points on the drawing].

– Why weren’t you patrolling?

– Other individuals were handling patrol duties.

– You mentioned [the duty time] from noon to midnight; do you have any breaks scheduled?

– Yes, rest periods are allotted for the staff. We use the buses for that purpose.

– For civilians, is it evident if someone is inside those buses?

An ordinary civilian can’t see if anyone is inside. All the windows are tinted.

– What about the doors?

– At that moment, they were closed.

– How does a staff member enter?

– If someone is observing… deliberately studying, yes. If you just casually glance at the bus, you can’t tell if there’s someone inside.

– If someone stands beyond the parking lot, could they see those standing near the bus?

– Well, the bus generally blocks the view. I can’t say. I think it’s impossible to see if there’s a staff member.

Defense attorney Gramazov objects to pressuring the victim. The judge does not accept the objection.

The prosecutor changes the question.

– Could you, from outside, see where you were standing by the buses?

– Oh, yes, it was possible. We were by the transport, and at 6:50, the driver shouted ‘attack.’ We turned around. I initially heard the sound of broken glass and saw a fire at the bottom of the first bus. Later, I heard another sound of broken glass and saw a fire on the right side of the second bus.

– Where was Sidorov when you heard the shout ‘attack’?

– Don’t know.

Gramazov objects, claiming the prosecutor guided the answer and directed where Sidorov was (the prosecutors had a laser pointer). The judge doesn’t accept the objection. The prosecutor asks again if the victim knew where Sidorov was; the victim responds that he didn’t know.

Victim continues:

– I ran to extinguish the first fire but didn’t even manage to move when the second transport ignited.

Prosecutor’s assistant asks:

– What caused the glass to break?

– It was from a bottle.

– Can one pass behind buses 1 and 2?

– Only if the barriers are deliberately moved aside.

– After you heard the noise, were they moved?

– At the time of the first fire, I didn’t see them moved, but after the second one, 1 was slightly moved.


– How quickly did you extinguish it?

– 2-3 minutes.

– Was there damage?

– I don’t know.

– Were there staff inside during the fire?

– Yes, they were.

Prosecutor’s colleague:

– Which bus?

– I distinctly saw a staff member running out of the second one.


– Was Koltsov resisting?

– After the second transport caught fire, I noticed someone fleeing. I thought it was an arsonist, and I [as a staff member] chased after him.”

Prosecutor’s colleague asks more questions.

– What was he wearing?

– White pants, a dark shirt, and boots. That’s where I apprehended him [points on the drawing].

Prosecutor’s colleague interrupts with questions.

– You mentioned someone being inside the bus. Who was coming out?

– Fedyayev.

The prosecutor’s colleague asks the victim something. The judge clarifies the reason for the interaction between the prosecution and the victim. The assistant states they are one side and need to communicate.

Questions asked by Alexeev:

– You showed where you were, but who else? “Tumansky, myself, and Kuznetsov. Fedyayev was on the second bus.” Where were the others?

– They were patrolling.

– Where is the front, and where is the rear of the bus?”

Victim points on the drawing.

– How did you extinguish the fire?

– Sidorov put it out, but I didn’t see.

Gramazov asks:

– Did Koltsov shout anything?

– No.

– Did you call the fire brigade?

– No.

– How much time passed from when you were there until the apprehension?

– About 2-3 minutes.

– You said he ran away, and I’m trying to understand…

– Yes, I heard ‘attack’ and chased after Koltsov.

– From bus ‘one’ to the road, what was the distance?

– Not much, but it was there.

– Why was the barrier necessary?

– So no one would walk past us.

– Were there detainees in the buses?

– No.

– Apart from Fedyayev, was anyone else on the bus?

– I only saw him.


– Which of the two fires was Sidorov putting out?

– I didn’t see.


– Did any of your colleagues get hurt?

– Emotionally?

Laughter erupts in the courtroom, the public laughs. No reprimands followed.

– Well, physically.

– No one went to the medical unit.


– When the first fire was in the lower part of the transport, was the asphalt burning?

– Yes, the first fire wasn’t on the transport itself but on the asphalt, it was a pedestrian area there.

– Was there any barrier set up on the sidewalk?

– The sidewalk there was accessible. I don’t remember if the sidewalk was inside or outside.

Did I shout something at the moment of the arrest?

The judge dismisses the question as irrelevant.

Koltsov continues:

– At the moment when you saw me, where were you, and where was I?

– You were here, and I was standing there.

– Was anyone closer to me than you?

– I didn’t see.

– Were you the closest officer to me?

Seems so.


– When you ran after Koltsov, why did you decide specifically to chase after him?

– I thought someone might need help, but the thought crossed my mind that he might be the arsonist and needed to be detained. At that moment, other officers came out, so I decided to detain him.

Kuznetsov is questioned next.

A prosecutor colleague asks questions:

– Where were you working?

– I was working in “Avangard” on May 2nd.

– Where were you located?

– Conducting surveillance. I was at the front of the transport, not far.

– Was anyone else there?

– The driver. Three in front and the driver behind.

– How did you patrol?

– Circled around the transport, beyond the territory.

– How often?

– Every two to three minutes.

– During patrol, were you only looking at the transport?

– No, around it only.

– Were there any rallies, pickets?

– No, nothing.

– Do you usually participate in stopping unauthorized events?

– Yes, it’s our job.

– Are the buses always there?

– Yes, they’re always parked there, just this time there was an available spot.

– What else did you see, hear, or observe?

– I was at the front and observing. I saw someone running, heard someone shouting “attack,” saw a bottle flying towards the bus, it bounced and ignited on the asphalt.

– Did you see who threw it?

– No.

– What happened next?

– We have small fire extinguishers, so I started putting out the fire.

– You didn’t run after Koltsov?

– No, I didn’t. I saw others run after him.

– Was there anything suspicious among the citizens?

– I saw a citizen running away.

– Koltsov or someone else?

– Koltsov.

– Did you sustain any injuries?

– No.

A prosecutor asks questions:

– What was the distance exactly from the fire?

– About a meter and a half for the first one, didn’t see for the second.

– Could the bus have caught fire?

– The driver drove it away.

Alexeev continues:

– Where was the driver standing?

– In the back.

– What’s his surname?

– Can’t recall.

– How long did it take to put out the fire?

– Don’t know, maybe 40 seconds.

– Did the bus sustain damage?

– A dent.

– Where was the dent?

– Right here, where the glass should be.

Gramazov asks:

– Did you see where the bottle came from?

– No.

Koltsov adds:

– Did you hear me shouting anything?

– No.

– Did you call the fire brigade?

– No.

– You didn’t call for the fire brigade because you assumed you would be able to extinguish fire yourself?

The judge dismisses the question about calling the fire brigade as hypothetical.


– Were the buses moved before or after?

– Only after, as I said.

– Who drove the bus away?

– The driver, but I don’t know if he was inside or hopped in afterward.


– Did everyone have a fire extinguisher?

The judge wants to dismiss the question, but the lawyer says he’s just clarifying.

The victim replies that when they start duty – yes, everyone has small fire extinguishers.

The prosecutor’s colleague asks a question.

– According to your documents, are you obliged to call the fire brigade?

– Probably. Yeah.

The jurors pass questions to the judge. The judge explains that he asks the questions because there is information that the jurors should not know.

The judge asks a juror a question.

– Describe the bus, apart from the windows, was there anything else on the glass?

– Yes, there were grilles on the windows. The buses were identical.

The juror says he has many questions. The judge says it’s okay to write them down and pass them on. The prosecutor asks if he can ask a clarifying question, and he is allowed.

– What part of the bus was glassed, where were the grilles? – the prosecutor asks.

– The windshield without grilles.

– Where did the cocktail hit, were there grilles by the windows? Is there tinting?

– Yes, there is a grille and tinting.

– Is there any other glass?

– There’s also a door. But there’s no grille there.

The judge asks the juror to specify the question, as it’s not clear. The juror writes something in the notebook.


– Are there partitions inside?

– Yes, but there’s a small window there.

The third victim is questioned [I couldn’t make out the last name by ear, monitor’s note] . His rights are read aloud.

The prosecutor starts the questioning again:

– What were you doing on May 2nd?

– I was with OMON-Avangard. I was a platoon commander. We started duty at Manezhnaya Square. I was the senior officer. From noon to midnight. The vehicles were in the parking lot.

– Regarding your duties. Where were you when the attack on you and the vehicle began?

The victim points.

– Was there anyone inside the bus?

– There was someone in the second one for sure, but in the first one – I don’t know.

– Did you witness the moment of the attack?

– We heard a sound and ran to see what happened. There was a fire. Literally a few seconds later, we heard a second sound, and ran here. I ordered to put out the fire. We ran to the second one, saw flames and a person running towards the square. Fedyaev ran out of here from the vehicle.

– When was the first bus driven away?

– I don’t know.

– At what point did Fedyaev run out?

– There was a sound of glass breaking, and he jumped out.

– Who was putting out the fire in the second bus?

– I found out later who was doing it.

Koltsov asks the same question he asked all the victims, and others.

– Did I shout?

– No.

– Who ran after me? In what order?

– Ragustov ran first, then Fedyaev.

– Did you bypass the second bus from the front?

– Yes, from the front.

– When you circled the second bus, did you see me, Ragustov running, Fedyaev, no other colleagues?

– I’ve already answered that.

– Were you the senior officer?

– Yes, but there are others senior to me. I was the senior officer on duty.

– When Ragustov ran after me, didn’t you think to call the fire brigade?

– I already gave the order to put out the fire and we had to detain the criminal.

– Where were you standing, where was Sidorov?


– So, no other colleagues?

– I didn’t see anyone else.

The probabilistic question “could it have been…?” is dismissed.

The lawyer asks about Koltsov’s resistance during the arrest, but the judge dismisses this question. The prosecutor says the lawyer is distorting information (while the prosecutor mentioned resistance in their opening statement).

Questions from the jurors are passed to the judge.

The judge asks the jurors questions.

– Did you see anyone throwing something?

– No.

– Did anyone else run away?

– No.

The last victim is questioned – Sidorov.

The judge clarifies if anything needs to be explained, other than the responsibility for giving false testimony – he answers no. The prosecutor’s colleague begins to ask questions, but the judge interrupts her and asks if the victim is acquainted with the defendant and if there are any grounds to disqualify him. The victim answers no to both questions.

The prosecution asks questions.

– Where were you at the time of the fire?

– I was behind the second bus.

– When participating in such events, what should you, as a driver, be doing?

– Being near the vehicle.

– Can you leave the vehicle unattended?

– No. If someone leaves, I have to get out and guard it.

– Who was the driver of the first bus?

– Fomin.

– And where was he?

– He was sitting in the first bus. I approached him, then I went behind the bus.

– When was this?

– Before the fire, I approached Fomin and then walked further.

– Were you alone?

– Alone.

– What did you see?

– Koltsov was walking. He turned towards me, started to open the suitcase.

At this time, a juror coughs severely, and they offer him some water.

The victim continues:

– I shouted “attack” and ran towards the second vehicle…

The judge announces a break because the juror feels unwell.

After the break, Sidorov continues.

– Then I ran to the fire extinguisher, I have one behind my seat. I saw something flying and thought I needed to get the extinguisher. When I unfastened it, I saw that my side, the window with the grill, was on fire, there were flames. I ran to extinguish the bus, then put out the asphalt nearby that was burning. Then I circled around the left side – I didn’t see where it [the bottle] smashed. And I decided to put out mine first and then the second one. I can’t speak about the moment of the arrest, I didn’t see it.

– Was anyone on your bus?

– I was there.

– But you said you were outside.

– When Koltsov threw the first bottle, I shouted “attack,” and while unfastening the extinguisher, I heard the sound of glass breaking and looked up, saw flames in the window.


– Besides you, was there anyone on the bus when the cocktail came in?

– Yes, there was a colleague.

– After the asphalt and the area beneath the bus caught fire, did bus 1 move?

– Yes, forward.


– Do you have some kind of fire system?

– Yes, you have to press a button and everything will be disabled.

– Why didn’t you press it?

– The engine didn’t catch fire.

– Where does the fuel go?

The victim shows.

– How many doors on the right side?

– One.


– Where did Koltsov throw the bottle?

– In the first bus, I saw it flying, but I didn’t see where it bounced off. I heard the bottle break. Later, I saw a slight dent in the upper right part. Fluid was leaking. But it didn’t catch fire.

– How long did it take to put out the first fire?

– Less than a minute.


– How long before the incident did you leave the bus?

– I can’t say. Maybe about 10 minutes.

– At that time, which colleagues were there?

– I can’t say, I don’t know all the colleagues.

– When you left, how many were there?

– One.

At the time of the crime, did I shout?


– When you were between the buses, was anyone there?

– No.

– Did you call the fire brigade?

– No.

– Why?

– I put out the fire myself and reported it.

– Why didn’t you take measures to detain me?

– I needed to inform the team. I decided it was necessary.


– How many colleagues were there on the buses?

I was alone at the back, and there were three in front. The driver was on the bus.

Prosecutor’s colleague:

– Were there people around? Colleagues?

– I didn’t see any colleagues.


– Did you enter the cabin for the fire extinguisher?

– I did, otherwise, it’s impossible.


– When you went for the fire extinguisher, did you see Koltsov?

– No.

The judge asks a juror’s question.

– Did you see who extinguished the first fire?

– I didn’t see; I eliminated the second one.

– Who extinguished the first fire?

– When I circled the second bus before the fire, there was someone who extinguished the fire here.

– You mentioned another person earlier. But when asked by the lawyer, you didn’t count him. Does it mean +1?

– 6 people, it seems.


– Did you see Fedyaev running out?

– No.

– Do you remember the bus numbers?

– 2696 is mine. I don’t remember the second one.

The judge asks the jurors to leave.

They discuss the request to include the sheet on which they drew – no objections.

The session is adjourned.

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