Russian Studies Fellow Arrested in Photo Shop

Vladimir Brovkin Charged With Destruction of Cash Register, Photographic Merchandise

Vladimir N. Brovkin, a fellow with the Davis Center for Russian Studies, was arrested in a Beacon Hill photo shop on February 13, Brovkin confirmed yesterday.

"He just went berserk," said James Kim, the 29-year-old employee on duty at the time of the incident. "He came in [and was] in a bad mood, and he let everything out on me."

Brovkin, formerly an associate professor of Russian studies, was charged with destruction of property after he became enraged and knocked the cash register and other merchandise to the floor, Kim said. He estimated that there were about $600 in damages.

Kim, who was working alone at the time of the incident, said that Brovkin, who came in with his wife, became very angry when his pictures were not ready and demanded that Kim call the lab and have the negatives returned.

Brovkin confirmed his arrest and said that he has a scheduled court appearance, but denied that he initiated the conflict.


Brovkin, who said that he is a long-time customer of Mr. Foto, said he is accustomed to having pictures returned in one day.

According to Brovkin, he told Kim, "I'm the customer and I'm the boss here, so call the manager and give me my property back."

Kim said he called the lab and when he informed Brovkin that the photos would not be available for three days, Brovkin began yelling at him.

"There was no way I could deal with his anger," Kim said. "He went crazy, he just lost it."

"He totally degraded me," Kim said. "So I said 'If you want to take this to a personal level, we can go outside.' That's when he got violent."

According to Brovkin, Kim refused to call the manager and began swearing at him.

When Kim asked Brovkin to take the confrontation outside, Brovkin said, "I said 'Call the police and the manager' and he didn't do that. At this point I moved toward the phone and not the cash register as he says."

According to Kim, after sweeping the cash register from the counter and knocking merchandise from shelves, Brovkin attempted to leave the store.

"I had to pull him back in to the store and he was trying to fight me. I pulled him onto the floor." While he was on the floor, Kim alleges Brovkin's wife pulled his hair.

Brovkin said that as he moved toward the phone, Kim disconnected it, came out from behind the counter and pushed him to the floor.

"That was it," he said. "I was trying to wiggle my way out from being squeezed and that's when all those pictures and frames got broken."

After wrestling Brovkin to the floor, Kin said he called the police but they had already been alerted by Harry Fisher, who has an office next to Mr. Foto.

When the police arrived, Brovkin said he greeted them, expecting they were there to help him. "But [Kim] complained that the customer got wild and I was arrested," he said.

"[Kim] should have been arrested," Brovkin said, adding that he plans to press charges.

The Boston Police Department declined to comment, citing reasons of confidentiality.

Brovkin was not offered tenure last year, and he said his fellowship with Harvard is scheduled to end in three months