Attacks ordered on Russian journalists often go unsolved
MOSCOW (AP) — The stabbing Monday of a prominent Russian radio journalist who works for a leading independent news station follows other attacks on journalists in recent years. Some of the targets were killed. None of the cases were fully investigated or solved.
ANNA POLITKOVSKAYA, FATALLY SHOT
Investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who won international acclaim for her in-depth reporting exposing human rights violations in Chechnya, was shot in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building on Oct. 7, 2006. Politkovskaya was a ferocious critic of President Vladimir Putin, in particular of his conducting of the war against Chechen separatists. She angered officials with her persistent reporting on rights abuses and corruption in Chechnya under the leadership of Kremlin favorite Ramzan Kadyrov.
In 2014, a Moscow jury convicted five men of Chechen origin in the journalist’s murder. They included the gunman and four accomplices: the gunman’s two brothers, their uncle and a former policeman. Two defendants received life sentences and the other three lengthy prison terms.
Authorities have not identified the person responsible for ordering the killing.
Politkovskaya’s family and colleagues have said they believe gunman Rustam Makhmudov and his relatives were involved, but expressed disappointment that investigators never tracked down the mastermind or questioned Kadyrov. The Chechen leader publicly called Politkovskaya an “enemy worse than terrorist.”
OLEG KASHIN, VICIOUSLY BEATEN
In November 2010, two assailants beat prominent columnist Oleg Kashin outside his home with a steel pipe. The ferocious attack fractured his skull and one of his fingers had to be partially amputated. After days in the induced coma, Kashin survived and recovered while walking with a cane.
The attack shocked members of Moscow’s journalists’ community, which staged pickets outside the investigators’ office demanding a thorough probe. Then-President Dmitry Medvedev vowed the assailants would be found and met with a recovering Kashin in Israel several months later.
Kashin was initially optimistic, saying investigators seemed genuinely interested in tracking down the attackers. After the investigation stalled and fizzled out, Kashin in 2015 named people connected to the beating in an online article and said the case was solved.
Kashin’s accusations were largely based on court documents, including depositions from four men who said they were paid more than $100,000 to beat him so badly that he would be crippled or killed. One man has been charged with attempted murder. Kashin laid the blame on Andrei Turchak, former governor of the Pskov region, who reportedly got offended by crude language Kashin used about him in a blog post.
The men worked in a factory owned by Turchak’s father. They were charged with attempted murder but the trial has not been held. Turchak has not been questioned.
GROUP BEATEN, BUS SET ON FIRE
In one of the most terrifying attacks on journalists in recent years, masked men on a late evening in March 2016 stopped a minibus carrying a small group of journalists investigating human rights abuse in Russia’s North Caucasus and viciously beat up everyone inside before setting the vehicle on fire.
Four Russian journalists, one reporter each from Norway and Sweden, and two activists from Russia’s Committee to Prevent Torture were headed with a driver toward Chechnya’s provincial capital of Grozny when several cars forced their bus off the road and the ferocious attack began.
As the assailants smashed the bus windows and pulled out the passengers out, they shouted that the journalists were “terrorists,” a witness said.
Amid suspicion that the attackers were associated with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen government ombudsman suggested there was conspiracy “to sow discord, suspicion and mistrust among our people.”
The attack was never fully investigated.
YULIA LATYNINA, CAR SET ON FIRE
Yulia Latynina, a columnist with the Novaya Gazeta newspaper who also hosts one of Ekho Moskvy’s most popular radio shows, fled Russia in September after a suspected arson attack on her car and receiving numerous threats.
Latynina said she was “unlikely to return any time soon.”
The scathing Kremlin critic told Ekho Moskvy radio said was “pretty scared” after her car was set on fire while she was out of town. Her elderly parents had to put out the blaze. Latynina said she had been followed and briefly given police protection.
Last year, an unidentified assailant threw a bucket of feces at her. Novaya Gazeta issued a statement, saying she had received death threats.
Latynina would not say who she suspected was behind the attacks, but her remarks pointed to activists inspired by an anti-Western campaign on state television rather than Russian authorities themselves.
“If that was the government’s initiative, I would have been stopped at the border, searched, something like that....This government would not have offered me police protection like it did,” she said on Ekho Moskvy. “The state has lost is monopoly on violence.”