'Man in Black' Abused Them. Then They Tracked Him Down

The BBC has the story of a group of young Russian women-turned-amateur detectives
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2022 9:30 AM CDT
'Man in Black' Abused Them. Then They Tracked Him Down
File photo of police responding to an unsanctioned protest in Moscow.   (AP Photo/Denis Sinyakov, File)

A Russian food-delivery app suffered a data breach in March—and that ended up being the first breadcrumb in a trail that led a group of Russian women to the "man in black." The BBC has the incredible story, which started that same month at a rally against the Ukraine invasion that was held in Moscow. A group of young women who attended the rally were forced into a police van and taken to the Brateyevo police station. Most didn't know each other, and while en route they set up a Telegram group chat. That chat gave them a place to connect afterward—and to discuss what they say was the six hours of near-torture they endured: threats to kill them, brandished guns, a plastic bag repeatedly put over one woman's head.

In the chat, the women—ages 19 to 25—all spoke of the "man in black." He was the primary abuser, a plain-clothes officer dressed in a black shirt. Two of the women had recorded audio of the abuse, and they knew his face, but they had no name and didn't see his photo on any police website they checked. But then came that hack, of Yandex Food, and a stroke of genius: The women searched for all orders to the Brateyevo police station and got the first names and phone numbers of nine customers. One was Ivan, and his phone number led them to a 2018 online ad for a car being sold by Ivan Ryabov. A search for that name turned up his image. It was him. "I started crying. I could not believe… that I managed to do it," says one of the women. (Read the full story for the women's next steps.)

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