Greater protection for Russian journalists urged
Amnesty International has called on Russian authorities to ensure protection for journalists, after several attacks in and near Moscow in the past four days.On Friday, Oleg Kashin of the daily newspaper Kommersant was attacked outside his home. He is currently hospitalized and in an induced coma due to the severity of his injuries.Today, Anatoly Adamchuk, a reporter for a suburban Moscow newspaper was assaulted and is suffering a concussion. The Friday attack on Oleg Kashin prompted Russian journalists and media workers to appeal to Russian President Dmitrii Medvedev for more protection, and for full and thorough investigations into assaults on journalists.“The Russian authorities must stop this chilling trend of journalists being attacked with impunity,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia. President Dmitry Medvedev has condemned the attack on Kashin and instructed the Prosecutor General and the Interior Minister to take personal responsibility for the investigation.Oleg Kashin reported and also blogged on a wide range of issues, including opposition rallies and public protests about the destruction of a forest in Khimki near Moscow. On Thursday, an activist for the protection of the Khimki forest outside of Moscow, 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 International does not know the motivation behind these attacks” John Dalhuisen said, “but it is 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.”Amnesty International is supporting 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 criminalizes the obstruction of the lawful professional activity of journalistsUnsolved 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 that left him permanently disabled.