Evan Neumann of Mill Valley, California, who fled to Belarus in order to escape criminal charges for his part in the attempted insurrection on Jan 6, 2021, has given an exclusive interview to Russia’s state media outlet RT. In his previous appearance, which was on Belarusian state TV, Neumann implied that Russia was his preferred destination and Belarus simply happened to be closer. Now this man—on the run from the American justice system—seems to be courting refuge from President Vladimir Putin.
Neumann is wanted in the United States on six criminal charges related to the Capitol riot, including two felonies for assaulting an officer and participating in civil disorder. The U.S. fugitive’s comments to the notorious state media outlet seem like an attempt to ingratiate himself with the Kremlin and perhaps to land in Moscow at some point in the future. He provided RT with a tasty sound bite that is sure to play well in Russian propaganda circuits: “I don’t understand why Russia is our enemy today.” During his earlier interview with Belarusian TV, Neumann condemned the U.S. sanctions against Russia and Belarus and described them as “a form of terrorism.”
In his appearance on RT that premiered over the weekend, Neumann claimed to be a registered Democrat, who nonetheless voted for former U.S. President Donald J. Trump in 2016 and 2020. He complained about Trump being unjustly accused and hounded by the media: “There was the Russian collusion accusation. It was just made up by a group of people and then it was pushed by the press... All of these things are well-known to not be true. They were lies.”
According to the criminal complaint filed in his case, Neumann was videotaped on January 6 assaulting and berating Capitol officers in the performance of their duties. He defied their demands to move away from the barricade by calling the officers “little bitches,” “piece of shit” and exclaiming, “You’re nothing.” Neumann allegedly assailed officers and struck them with a metal barricade. He said, “I’m willing to die, are you?”
He told RT, “The police were very aggressive.” At the same time, he blamed law enforcement for being unprepared for the riots: “It appeared to be that the police had made no preparations for a protest, even though they knew for weeks or maybe even a month that there had been calls for this protest at the Capitol." Neumann claimed that most rioters didn’t expect to be criminally charged: “There appeared to be anarchy in the USA and the rule of law had ceased to exist.”
In spite of apparently being caught on camera on Jan. 6, Neumann denied assaulting the police. He told RT that he fled the United States because he “didn’t have enough money to defend himself.” He said the FBI interviewed him at the airport and then let him go so he “can’t be charged with fleeing.” Neumann accused the U.S. justice system of “political” motives for seeking to imprison him for participating in what he described as “an uprising.”
During his Russian state media pity party, Neumann claimed that Trump supporters in California live in fear and operate as an underground society: “Everybody is on the down-low... Every now and then somebody comes to me—secretly, quietly—and tells me that they don’t understand what’s going on... Yeah, everything has to be secretive. Otherwise, you’re socially ostracized.”
Neumann complained that his “politically incorrect” commentary generated “a lot of hate.” He bitterly griped, “I was not invited to dinner parties anymore. Well, or almost any parties.”
RT has previously hosted fellow insurrectionist Richard Barnett, who was pictured with his feet on a desk in Nancy Pelosi’s office during the Capitol riots.
Perhaps not realizing the extent of the authoritarian surveillance apparatus in Russia, Neumann complained of his fears about the U.S. internet and social media: “I don’t do social media. I’m scared... of Google, Twitter, Facebook... These things shouldn’t be allowed. Google, what they do is they know more about you than you know about yourself.”
Despite Neumann’s eagerness to slam the U.S. and defend Russia, some media outlets there are already questioning his motives and even comparing him to Lee Harvey Oswald. Tsargrad TV, known as “the Fox News of Russia,” pondered whether Neumann was sent in to conduct some kind of an anti-Russian mission. Attempting to dispel such suspicions earlier in November, Neumann defensively told the Russian media outlet NTV: “No, I’m no Lee Harvey Oswald.”
On his decision to flee from justice to Belarus—of all places—Neumann told RT, “There were only a few states that could or would protect me from the United States of America.”
As the reality of his self-inflicted situation is starting to hit home, Neumann seems to be ruing his predicament. He told RT, “Good Lord, I regret things... Number one, I promised someone that I would stand back in the crowd and I didn’t hold to that promise... I regret being rude to the police... and there’s one other thing, but I won’t say it, because I need to invoke my right to silence on that.”
The fugitive’s fate remains uncertain. Neumann said that after illegally crossing into Belarus and requesting political asylum, he was detained for several days, but was later moved to another unspecified location. He added, “I believe I’m on some kind of a trial period.” By all appearances, Neumann is striving to pass Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko’s—and Putin’s—test.