U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Russian journalist targeted with pepper spray while covering Minneapolis protests

Incident Details

Date of Incident
May 30, 2020


Was the journalist targeted?
May 30, 2020

Mikhail Turgiev, a correspondent with the Russian news agency RIA, was targeted with pepper spray while covering protests in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 30, 2020.

Protests began in Minnesota on May 26, sparked by a video showing a police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a black man, during an arrest the day before. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Turgiev told the Committee to Protect Journalists — a founding partner of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker — that police pepper-sprayed at about 11 p.m. after he had taken refuge in a Vice News crew’s vehicle.

Turgiev said he told the officer he was a member of the press and showed his State Department-issued press credentials, and then an officer pepper-sprayed him, according to a video from the Russian government-funded channel Sputnik. The journalist was able to turn his head and the spray only got into his right eye, he said in that video.

“There’s no explanation of why they used this kind of force,” Turgiev told Sputnik.

More than three dozen journalists were assaulted, arrested or had equipment damaged while covering protests that night. The Minneapolis Police Department, Minnesota State Police, and Minnesota National Guard did not reply to emailed requests for comment about these 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].