Young ‘star’ of 2019 Moscow protests Yegor Zhukov beaten by unknown assailants near home, Kremlin calls for investigation

Police in Moscow have opened a criminal investigation into an assault on a popular anti-Kremlin radio host and YouTube personality. Yegor Zhukov (22) came to prominence as a defendant in the so-called “Moscow case” last year.

Eyewitnesses told the victim’s associates that he was attacked by two people “who later fled on scooters,” near his home in the Russian capital, on Sunday evening. According to his ‘spokesman’ Stas Toporkov, Zhukov was preliminarily diagnosed with a concussion and a suspected traumatic brain injury. He apparently refused hospitalisation.

A source in the Moscow office of the Internal Affairs Ministry informed the TASS news agency that a young man told the police that two unknown persons had beaten him and fled the scene. “An inspection is underway on that fact, the issue of initiation of a criminal case under Article 116 of the Russian Criminal Code (‘Battery’) is under consideration,” the source said.

The Kremlin said it expects those responsible for the attack to be identified and punished according to the law. At the same time, commenting on incidents with representatives of the opposition, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov urged “let’s not jump to conclusions here… we do not know who beat Zhukov, we do not know why.”

Zhukov first made national headlines when he was arrested in August 2019, on charges of participating in ” mass riots” in Moscow at the end of July. A month later, he was placed under house arrest upon the investigators’ request. Later, the Russian Investigative Committee dropped the initial charge, but instead accused him of public calls for extremism.

According to the case files, the new charges were based on Zhukov’s videos posted on YouTube. Prosecutors demanded a four-year prison sentence for Zhukov, but the court gave him a three-year suspended sentence. He was also banned from creating and managing his own Internet pages for two years.

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Zhukov, described as a pro-Donald Trump, US ‘Tea-party’ supporting libertarian, was subsequently given his own show on “Echo of Moscow” radio. Some of his statements have sparked controversy, such as when he said that feminists are horrible, like the Soviet Union, and that he eventually wants to become a president who makes the presidency obsolete.

Nevertheless, he has been misrepresented in the West as some sort of liberal activist .“Once again Anglo-American hacks are gushing over a Moscow opposition performer whose reactionary politics (anti-feminist) would be slammed as Trumpist in the West,” tweeted formerly Russia-based American journalist Mark Ames last December. “I saw one hack melodramatically tweet “A new leader is born”. All that was missing was a declarative “Hark!” 

Zhukov, had said earlier on Sunday that Moscow’s Higher School of Economics (HSE) had expelled him from a master’s degree program less than two hours after accepting his application. The college said that it had actually closed down Zhukov’s program (focused on ‘the art of cinema’) because it had been unable to put together a team of instructors “for reasons beyond the university’s control.” Zhukov claimed the HSE’s move was influenced by his politics.

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