Russia: 'Chilling trend' of attacks on journalists condemned

Amnesty International has called on the Russian authorities to ensure the protection of journalists after several attacks in and near Moscow in the past four days.

Late on Friday, Oleg Kashin of the daily newspaper Kommersant was attacked outside his home. He is currently hospitalised and in an induced coma due to the severity of his injuries. Earlier today, Anatoly Adamchuk, a reporter for a suburban Moscow newspaper was assaulted and is suffering concussion.

Friday’s attack on Oleg Kashin prompted Russian journalists and media workers to appeal to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for more protection and for full and thorough investigations into assaults on journalists.

Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Deputy Director John Dalhuisen said:

“The Russian authorities must stop this chilling trend of journalists being attacked with impunity.

“Amnesty International doesn’t know the motivation behind these attacks but it’s important that the authorities investigate the possibility that they might be linked to the victims’ professional activities or expressed views

“These fresh assaults should not be left to join a long list of unsolved crimes against journalists and civil society activists. They must be investigated, and those responsible brought to justice, including any people who ordered the attacks.”

President Medvedev has condemned the attack on Kashin and instructed the Prosecutor General and the Interior Minister to take personal responsibility for the investigation. Mr Kashin reported on a wide range of issues, including opposition rallies and public protests about the destruction of a forest in Khimki near Moscow. Last Thursday an activist for the protection of the Khimki forest, Anatolii Fetisov, was attacked by unknown assailants. He is also currently in an induced coma.

Anatoly Adamchuk had written for a suburban newspaper about protests against a road construction project that would lead to incursions on another forest near Moscow.

Amnesty is supporting a Russian journalists’ appeal to President Medvedev for increased protection, thorough investigations into unsolved attacks, and full implementation of Article 144 of the Russian Penal Code, which criminalises the obstruction of the lawful professional activity of journalists.

Unsolved attacks on journalists in Russia include the 2006 murder of Anna Politkovskaya, and a 2008 attack on journalist and defender of the Khimki forest, Mikhail Beketov, an attack that left him permanently disabled.

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