Californian man granted asylum in Belarus after January 6 riots

A Northern California man who fled the US after allegedly assaulting police officers in the US capital on January 6, 2021, has been granted political asylum in Belarus, state media he announced this week.

Evan Neumann, 49, who lived in Mill Valley in Marin County, was charged in December 2021 with 14 counts, including assaulting officers and entering a restricted building with a weapon dangerous. But until then, according to the FBI, he was already in Belarus, a former Soviet republic and current staging ground for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Neumann could not be reached for comment. A man who answered a phone number linked to Neumann’s brother and identified himself with the same first name as Neumann’s brother hung up when a reporter identified himself as an employee of the Los Angeles Times.

The U.S. government said Neumann, who comes from a family that owned top hotels in Sonoma County, flew to Washington, D.C., on January 5, 2021, and was spotted in video by police body camera outside the Capitol on January 6. wearing a red MAGA hat and an orange and yellow scarf commemorating Ukraine’s Orange Revolution of 2005. Neumann, who spent time in Eastern Europe and reportedly supported the pro-democracy Orange Revolution, also sported a gas mask, according to the government.

Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021.

(Julio Cortez/Associated Press)

Standing just behind a barricade meant to keep rioters out of the Capitol, according to the government, Neumann chastised the officers, saying they’re “kneeling to antifa because they’re little female dogs” and tell an officer that they will be invaded by the crowd and the warning: “I am ready to die. Are you?”

Around 2 p.m., according to the government, Neumann used the barricade as a battering ram, lifting it off the ground and rushing towards the officers. Hours later, after 5 p.m., Neumann was still in a tight spot on the steps of the Capitol, refusing to leave and calling officers “mommy-” and “fucking murderers,” prosecutors say.

Neumann is the son of the late Santa Rosa hotelier Claus Neumann, and in the days following the riots, an anonymous informant claiming to be a friend of the family gave Neumann’s name and address to federal authorities. Officials then compared their footage with a TV interview Neumann did with a local TV station after a wildfire.

In 2017, Santa Rosa police arrested Neumann and his younger brother, Mark, on suspicion of crossing official barricades to visit his mother’s destroyed home in the Fountaingrove neighborhood after the deadly Tubbs fire.

On February 16, 2021, FBI agents staked out Neumann’s house in Mill Valley, then followed him to the international terminal at San Francisco International Airport, where they questioned him. He admitted to flying to Washington on January 5 and returning on January 7, but declined to say whether he had a ‘physical engagement’ with law enforcement or entered buildings federal during his trip. Neumann, who had several businesses, including a handbag business, was later allowed to leave the country.

He flew to Italy, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, then went to Ukraine. But, according to interviews Neumann gave to Belarusian state media, he began to fear that he was being watched and, because of the close ties between the United States and Ukraine, that he could be extradited.

He entered Belarus, encountering snakes and boars, he said in a maintenance with Belarusian state television which has since been posted on YouTube.

In the interview, in which Neumann is pictured sometimes strolling through a town square with his interviewer and at other times sitting in an office next to a potted plant, he described officers punching him with pepper spray on Jan. 6 and said “very strange things happened” at the Capitol. He also claimed that someone inside opened the doors to the building and the rioters were “invited to enter”.

In the spring of 2021, Neumann sold his two-bedroom house in Tony Mill Valley for $1.3 million, closing the deal in a quick 2.5 weeks, according to an interview the buyer gave to ABC7.

“We did some Google searches,” Jason Dubaniewicz said in the interview, after learning the seller was in Ukraine. “We found an eclectic person.”

Los Angeles Times

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