“In the Middle of a Reactionary Crowd”: Attacks on Journalists in the Moscow Region

Better late than never, we guess: the New York Times on the wave of assaults on opposition and muckracking journalists in the Moscow Region, including Mikhail Beketov and Yuri Grachev, in 2008–2009, and the “failure” of law enforcement officials to make headway in the investigations of these crimes. Especially touching is the story of Pyotr Lipatov:

Farther up the M-10 Highway is Klin, where an opposition rally was held in March 2009 to protest corruption and increases in utility rates.

As Pyotr Lipatov, editor of an opposition newspaper called Consensus and Truth, was leaving the rally, three men pushed him to the ground and punched him repeatedly on the head. “Even when I was unconscious, they didn’t let me go,” Mr. Lipatov said.

This beating was recorded on video by protesters. Mr. Lipatov’s colleagues used the video to track down the men who beat him. They were police officers.

While Mr. Lipatov, 28, was recovering in the hospital, he said two other police officers visited and urged him to sign a statement saying that he had provoked the attack. He refused. The police then issued a statement.

“According to Lipatov, filming the meeting with his camera, he found himself in the middle of a reactionary crowd, was pushed and fell to the ground,” the statement said. Two videos of the demonstration show a different sequence of events.

Officials later acknowledged that police officers had been involved in the attack, but they still brought no charges. Instead, they raided Mr. Lipatov’s offices, seized computers and brought a criminal extremism suit against him. They asserted that he had sought to foment “negative stereotypes and negative images of members of the security forces.”

Fearing for his safety and more criminal charges, he quit.

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Filed under censorship, political repression, Russian society

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