U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Channel One Russia cameraman assaulted while covering Portland protests

Incident Details

July 21, 2020

Channel One Russia cameraman Viacheslav Arkhipov was assaulted by federal agents while covering protests against police violence with colleague Yuliya Olkhovskaya in Portland, Oregon, on July 21, 2020.

Protests continued for months in downtown Portland in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. On the evening of July 21, demonstrators gathered outside the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. courthouse, where protesters held signs and sang songs, according to Olkhovskaya, the Washington, D.C. bureau chief for the outlet.

The gathering remained peaceful, she told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, until some new arrivals began to agitate the crowd. A Department of Homeland Security report about the evening describes several hours of violence, including attempts to set fire to the courthouse and break into its entrance.

Arkhipov and Olkhovskaya, had State Department-issued press badges visibly displayed and had a camera on a tripod nearby, Olkhovskaya said.

Olkhovskaya said that they were watching the courthouse scene at about 9 p.m. when officers came from the back door and kicked her. The Tracker documented her assault here.

Arkhipov said a federal agent hit his right wrist with a baton and a second federal agent grabbed his backpack from behind and pushed him to the ground.

"Two agents snatched the camera out of my hands and threw it on the ground,” he said. “Then one of the agents kicked the camera with his boot."

After the officers left the area, Arkhipov returned to the courthouse area, only to find the camera had been destroyed.

The camera’s memory card wasn’t damaged so the crew managed to file a story about the protest and the encounter with what the story described as “extremely aggressive” security forces.

According to an Izvestia news report, the Russian Federation sent official complaints to the United States about the Portland attack and another assault on Channel One journalists in Philadelphia in October. The Dec. 15, 2020, story said there had been no response from the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security didn’t respond to a Tracker request for comment on the two Channel One incidents.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd-control ammunition or tear gas or who had their equipment damaged in the course of reporting. Find all incidents related to Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests here.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].