The Anthem of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation:
While all the fanfare? Well, because there’s reason to celebrate. The Voice of Russia tells it like it is:
Bastrykin – Novaya Gazeta: conflict is over
Jun 14, 2012
Alexander Bastrykin. Photo: RIA Novosti
One of the greatest public scandals recently seen by Russia is over: Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the Investigative Committee, and the Novaya Gazeta chief editor Dmitry Muratov have made reciprocal apologies and shook hands in reconciliation.
The scandal began after newspaper’s deputy editor Sergey Sokolov had published an article which accused Russian law enforcement agencies of helping a mafia gang leader Sergey Tsepovyaz in Russia’s corrupted Kushchevskaya village in Krasnodar. The author was especially critical about Bastrykin’s agency.
The official invited the journalist to a meeting in Nalchik, where the Kushchevskaya massacre was discussed. They had a talk during which Bastrykin called the accusations a lie and demanded apologies. They ended up in a quarrel and the reporter was expelled from the meeting.
But this was not the end. Shortly after, Dmitry Muratov wrote an open letter in which he claimed that Bastrykin took Sokolov to a forest where he threatened the journalist’s life. No proof except Sokolov’s testimony was provided.
Reporters were impatient about June 14 when Bastrykin was to meet chief editors of top Russian media. The meeting went surprisingly peaceful and Bastrykin started with apologizing for being too emotional. Dmitry Muratov accepted the apologies and said that the conflict was over. Then he called the author of the article, Sokolov, and they exchanged apologies with the top investigator.
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.