JOURNALISMRUSSIA -- November 8, 2010 at 2:18 PM ET
Russian Journalists Victims of Violent Attacks
A second Russian journalist was assaulted Monday near Moscow, two days after a brutal attack left a well-known political reporter in a coma.
Both men have reported on a wide range of issues and no motive has been determined yet, but a common thread has emerged: both reporters wrote about a controversial highway development project vehemently opposed by environmental activists, according to the Associated Press.
Anatoly Adamchuk, who works for a suburban Moscow paper, suffered a concussion and other minor injures after being attacked Monday night by two men.
Saturday's assault, which police are calling an attempted murder, targeted Oleg Kashin, a reporter for the prestigious Kommersant newspaper. He sustained a head injury, a broken jaw and a broken leg. His hands were so badly beaten that his left pinky is gone. Kashin also recently covered anti-Kremlin protests and extremist rallies, the BBC reported.
Outrage over the violence escalated in Russia as the below surveillance video of Kashin's beating circulated on the internet and was broadcast on state news.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev condemned the attacks Monday and said the guilty parties would be found and punished.
"Whoever is involved in this crime will be punished, regardless of his position, place in society or accomplishments," Medvedev said. "I have seen it written in the press that (the people behind the crime) will not be found. They will be found. There is no doubt."
Russia has seen a wave of attacks on journalists in recent years, and in most cases perpetrators have not been identified. Since 2000, there have been 19 unsolved murders of journalists in the country, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
"The attackers are not brought to justice, it's the impunity in previous attacks that is breeding these new waves of attacks on journalists who take up sensitive topics," said Nina Ognianova, Europe and Central Asia coordinator for CPJ.
While the organization commends Medvedev's proactive stance, Ognianova said past investigations have always stopped short of questioning high-level government officials.
"We've seen a number of cases [in Russia] where regional governors, or mayors or even prosecutors are implicated in these cases," she said, but none were ever prosecuted.
Cliff Kupchan, Russia expert and director of the Eurasia Group, said it is clear from the pattern of attacks that certain players in Russia do not like it when money trails and financial transactions are investigated.
"The pattern of violence also raises questions, however, about who is committing these crimes and especially to what extent the Russian government knows about it," Kupchan said, "And that is just not clear."
While CPJ ranks Russia as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for reporters, Kupchan said the print media is still "relatively free" and there are several papers that are quite critical of the government.
"Reporters that engage in this type of activity have never felt completely free of threat," he said. "But the concrete personal risk they face has become much more clear."