News / Europe

Brutal Attack on Journalist Challenges Russian Liberalization

Russian opposition leader Vladimir Milov with a poster, saying:
Russian opposition leader Vladimir Milov with a poster, saying: "Journalist Oleg Kashin has been beaten. I demand to find the persons who attacked him", 06 Nov 2010
James Brooke

A lead pipe attack on a reporter has led to something new in Russia: public condemnation by the nation's president.  

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev is taking an attack on a leading Moscow journalist as a direct challenge to his liberalization project for Russia.

In the attack, two men brutally beat Oleg Kashin, breaking his fingers, legs, jaw and fracturing his skull.  They did not steal his wallet or his I-phone.  His editor at Kommersant newspaper charged that Kashin was attacked for his critical coverage of pro-government youth groups and an environmental dispute.

In the past in Russia, official silence greeted murders of critical journalists - 19 in the past decade by one count.

But this near-fatal beating prompted President Medvedev to immediately order the nation's top prosecutor and the interior minister to oversee the investigation.  State television channels, usually mute about attacks on journalists, led their news programs with reports of the beating.

In an interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta a state-owned newspaper, Russia's president vowed: "These forces must be identified.  Whoever is behind this crime, he will be punished irrespective of his position, social status, or his past merits, if he has any."

The president's position was strengthened by outrage from a video of the beating contained in a 90-second surveillance tape that was posted on the Russian internet.  

Further enraging Russia's largely liberal blogosphere, two more journalists were reportedly beaten by unknown attackers Sunday and Monday.  Hundreds of journalists have signed an online protest petition.

The research director for the Center for Media Studies in Moscow, Alexander Morozov, says attacks on reporters are "a direct challenge to President Medvedev."

He said for President Medvedev's political liberalization project to succeed, the attackers must be found and punished.

On Saturday, Russia's president jolted the nation's ruling party by vetoing a bill approved by Russia's parliament that would have further restricted rights to public protest.  Continuing this new liberal trend, a leader of Russia's upper house of parliament has proposed a bill that would increase penalties for attacks against journalists.

But the press officer for the Russia chapter of Amnesty International, Natalia Sergeeva, says real change will come only when people who attack journalists start going to jail.

"First time that the president was clear about the investigation of the beating of a journalist, but nevertheless it is not the first time that the president claims something, and then we wait for results for years and years," said Sergeeva.

In the Kashin case, the investigation could lead back to government circles.

Three months ago, Molodaya Gvardiya, a pro-Kremlin youth group, posted on its website a column headlined Journalist-Traitors: Who Should be Punished.  The report was illustrated with a photo of Kashin, stamped with the warning: "Will be punished."

On Saturday, minutes after President Medvedev had condemned the attack, the photo was removed the Molodaya Gvardiya site and replaced with a statement calling the attack a 'barbaric crime."

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs