Impunity in Russia Impels Attacks on Journalists
The recent attacks on two journalists in Russia reflect the impunity that is now institutionalized into Russia’s system of governance, according to Freedom House. The cases of Oleg Kashin and Anatoly Adamchuk, both of whom were brutally assaulted in separate incidents, are simply the latest in a series of violent attacks against journalists. The attitude of the Russian authorities has become apparent in their failure to identify or punish the perpetrators of such crimes.
Kashin, a journalist for respected newspaper Kommersant, is currently in a medically-induced coma after he was bludgeoned by two unknown assailants as he returned home early Saturday morning. Kashin was reportedly covering political movements and protest activities of the country’s youth. His colleagues at Kommersant believe that that attacks on Mr. Kashin came as a result of his work. Anatoly Adamchuk, a journalist for Zhukovskiye Vesti, a local newspaper in the Moscow suburb of Zhukovsky was beaten early this morning outside of the newspaper’s office and is reported to be suffering from a concussion. He was thought to be working on a story regarding controversial efforts by developers to cut down trees to make room for highways.
“This ongoing pattern of violence against journalists in Russia is perpetuated, if not outright encouraged by the utter lack of accountability in bringing the perpetrators to justice,” said David J. Kramer, executive director of Freedom House. “President Medvedev’s welcome condemnation of this weekend’s attack on Kashin will ring hollow, however, without serious follow through in the justice sector. Absent accountability and rule of law, the current environment is unlikely to change and Russia will continue to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.”
Journalists in Russia have persistently faced danger when investigating sensitive issues like state corruption, organized crime or other topics that go against the Kremlin’s party line. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 24 reporters have been killed in Russia since 1999, the time period encompassing the administrations of Putin and Medvedev. Investigations into these attacks rarely result infinding real culprits, despite initiation ofprosecutorial action, including the unsolved murders of Anna Politkovskaya and Natalya Estemirova. Politkovskaya, an investigative reporter who fearlessly took on the Kremlin for years, was shot execution style in her apartment building in 2006. Estemirova of human rights group Memorial was killed in Chechnya more than a year ago while investigating violence in the North Caucasus.
Russia is ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2010, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2010.
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