The ‘Ural Hulk’ and friends: We identified the trained fighters trying to break up protests in Yekaterinburg

Protests against the destruction of a city square in central Yekaterinburg have entered their third day. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of the city’s residents have taken to the streets to oppose the planned construction of a cathedral in place of the square. Protesters began their first day of protests on May 13 by knocking down the fence surrounding the proposed construction site. Several hours later, groups of young men wearing athletic clothing pushed them out of the square. Although the men acted aggressively, the police officers present did not interfere. Meduza asked journalist Grigory Leiba to find out who the young men were. The bands of ‘cathedral defenders’ turned out to include champion martial arts fighters, members of the recently founded RMK Martial Arts Academy, and regulars at local gyms. The latter group, sources told Meduza, were offered money in exchange for dispersing protesters.