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Russian Police Search for 2 Men who Brutally Beat a Moscow Journalist

  • James Brooke

Activist Ilya Yashin holds a poster saying 'Russian journalist Oleg Kashin was beaten. I demand that attackers and masterminds should be found', 08 Nov 2010

Activist Ilya Yashin holds a poster saying 'Russian journalist Oleg Kashin was beaten. I demand that attackers and masterminds should be found', 08 Nov 2010

Russian police are searching for two men who brutally beat a leading Moscow journalist on November 6.

Every hour, Russian state television is showing a video clip of Moscow's top detective briefing the country's interior minister on the hunt for two men who brutally beat Oleg Kashin near the Kremlin.

Analysts say that authorities want to send the signal down the ranks of Russia's police bureaucracy that the Kremlin is serious about catching the pipe-wielding assailants.

On Monday, Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev met with newspaper editors and vowed to capture the attackers.

The president said, "Whoever is responsible for this crime will be punished."

In addition to communicating the need to capture the attackers quickly, experts say the video aims calm world and national opinion. Kashin was a well-known reporter for Kommersant, a Russian political and business newspaper.

With Kashin hospitalized and in a coma, criticism has come from Washington and other capitals as well as several human rights groups. In Russia, journalists are demanding that the Kremlin crack down on violence against reporters.

At a press roundtable in Moscow, the editor of an opposition radio station sat side by side with the editor of a state-owned newspaper that takes coverage guidance from the Kremlin. Mikhail Kotov, editor of the Gazeta online newspaper, spoke for many when he said the chilling aspect of the attack was that Kashin was not an investigative reporter. He said Kashin was nearly killed for his opinions.

"Russia's courts and the police," Kotov said, "do not have enough strength - or enough interest - to protect journalists."

Alexey Venediktov, editor of Echo Moskvi, an opposition radio station, agreed. He said detectives are studying video from 13 surveillance cameras from the area where Kashin was attacked.

Venediktov said that the fact that the two attackers lingered in the neighborhood for two hours indicates that they have powerful patrons.

Russia's parliament is reviewing a bill that would allow sentences as long as life in prison for people convicted of attacking journalists.

Of eight killings of reporters in Russia this year, only one case has resulted in an arrest. In that case, the suspect on trial is a policeman who had been guarding the detained journalist.

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