Saturday, November 6, 2010

Brody's Notes... Progressive Russian Journalist Severely Beaten & In Coma

Oleg Kasin  Photo By Svetlana Privalova Kommersant/AP
By Brody Levesque (Washington DC) NOV 6 | A journalist employed by the major Russian daily newspaper Kommersant, was severely beaten last night in Moscow. The paper reported that Oleg Kashin, a 30 year old progressive investigative journalist, was attacked outside his Moscow apartment building in the early hours of Saturday. Police authorities in the Russian capital confirmed he had been transported to hospital. Doctors said he had suffered from a fractured jaw, broken shins and injuries to his fingers and skull. The injuries severe enough for them to put the reporter into an induced coma 

A Moscow Militia spokesperson said that this was not a robbery attempt as Kashin was still in possession of his mobile phone and his wallet contained his credit cards and cash. Police authorities are now treating this case as one of an attempted murder and in a statement to the Russian media, President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev, told reporters that "the criminals must be found and punished."

An editor for Kommersant, Mikhail Mikhailin, said in an interview with Radio Moscow; "It's clear that the people who did this did not like what he says and writes." He noted that the attempt  on Kashin's life was obvious retribution for articles he has recently written. Kashin has covered anti-Kremlin protests and extremist rallies. Mikhailin said that Kashin had been reporting on demonstrations against the building of a highway through Khimki forest outside Moscow which has now been put on hold by the government.

BBC News Russian affairs analyst Damien McGuiness says attacks on Journalists are not uncommon in Russia.  "Mr Kashin is a well-known figure and the newspaper he works for is one of Russia's most respected publications." McGuiness says solving this case will be seen as a test for just how serious the Kremlin really is about clamping down on the intimidation of journalists.

Human rights groups say there have been 19 unsolved murders of journalists since 2000 and that investigations into attacks lead nowhere.