Defendants arraigned for alleged July 4 rioting

Gennadiy Kachankov, right, appears before Judge Amanda Benjamin for arraignment on felony rioting and other charges in Lincoln County Circuit Court in Newport on Monday. (Photo by Kenneth Lipp)

NEWPORT — Five of the seven men accused of possessing illegal fireworks, confronting police and harassing a Black family with racial slurs on a Lincoln City beach July 4 entered not guilty pleas in Lincoln County Circuit Court on Monday.

Gennadiy Kachankov, Antoliy Kachankov, Yuriy Kachankov, Andrey Zaytsev and Andrey Leonchik, all of the Clark County, Wash., area, appeared for arraignment before Judge Sheryl Bachart on Aug. 31. 

According to the prosecution, the five men and two others were firing illegal fireworks on the beach near the Inn at Spanish Head on Independence Day. Officers responding to the call found themselves surrounded by the group, and they learned the men had been harassing a Black family, yelling racial slurs and flashing Nazi salutes, police said. Officers formed a protective line to allow the family to leave the beach, while the men continued to taunt police and shoot more fireworks, according to police reports. They were eventually arrested, cited and released on a felony charge of rioting, as well misdemeanor counts of interfering with a peace officer, tampering with evidence, disorderly conduct and unlawful possession of fireworks.

One of those charged, Oleg Saranchuk, was arraigned and pleaded not guilty on July 13 and appeared for a hearing Aug. 24. A seventh defendant, Ruslan Tkachenko, was scheduled but not present for arraignment on Monday. A warrant has been issued for failure to appear, according to court records.

At the time of Monday’s hearing, Leonchik alone was accompanied by counsel. Attorney Christopher A. McCormack entered his client’s not guilty plea and told the judge he’d received some discovery from the district attorney’s office. Zaytsev and the three Kachankov brothers all declined a court-appointed attorney, saying they planned to hire counsel or had spoken with representation who would be available when needed. 

Gennadiy Kachankov, standing alone before Judge Amanda Benjamin, who conducted some arraignments while Bachart held status hearings in another courtroom, was indignant about the charges and suggested legal action was being considered against authorities. “We’re going after this town, straight up,” he said. He also told the judge they’d requested police reports and video from the incident and received no reply. “God bless you guys, all. Vote Trump,” Kachankov said to the courtroom after entering his not guilty plea and being dismissed by the judge.

The other defendants echoed Kachankov’s complaint that the state had not been responsive to requests for evidence. Before leaving the courthouse, all five were required to sign a conditional release agreement, barring them from contact with co-defendants and alleged victims in the case. They, as well as Saranchuk, are next scheduled for a status hearing on Sept. 21.

District Attorney Jonathan Cable said in a July 6 press release his office could not bring charges under the bias crime statute, as the allegations do not involve “offensive physical contact, destruction of property or threat of serious physical injury,” but the prosecutor filed notices of intent to rely on enhancement factors, including the alleged crimes’ motivation by bias, which could mean stiffer penalties if convicted.

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