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Beaten Russian Journalist Acquitted of Slander

Mikhail Beketov is seen during a rally on Pushkin Square to support journalists and activists and demand full investigation into their beatings in central Moscow, 21 Nov 2010

Once outspoken Russian journalist Mikhail Beketov, who was nearly beaten to death two years ago and is now confined to a wheelchair, was acquitted of slander Friday.

Russia's Interfax news agency reports that Beketov, who was charged and fined last month for slandering a local mayor, has won his appeal because of his physical and mental disabilities sustained from the violent assault.

In 2007, the reporter and editor of Khimkinskaya Pravda weekly accused the mayor of being involved in blowing up his car. A year later the journalist was savagely attacked, leaving him barely able to talk and brain-damaged.

Beketov had reported on controversial plans to build a road through Khimki's protected forest, the same issue covered by several other Russian journalists who have been attacked.

Since his attack in 2008, Beketov has undergone eight operations. Some of his fingers were amputated, as was one of his lower legs.

Eight journalists have been killed in Russia this year. Only one case has resulted in an arrest. No one has been charged in Beketov's case.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called for greater state protection for reporters following a string of attacks in November.