Two local journalists violently attacked

New York, April 12, 2002—Two journalists have been injured in separate attacks in Siberia and southern Russia, according to international reports.

Yan Svider, a journalist with the opposition newspaper Vozrozhdeniye Respubliki, was attacked today by two unknown assailants in the city of Cherkessk in the southern Karachaevo-Cherkessiya Republic, according to local and international news reports.

Svider was attacked in the entranceway of his apartment building when he was on his way to work. The region’s deputy prosecutor told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti that the assailants beat the 55-year-old journalist with metal rods. He was hospitalized for a head injury and broken arms and legs.

Vozrozhdeniye Respubliki‘s editor, Vladimir Panov, and the prosecutor’s office believe that Svider may have been attacked for his professional work. The newspaper, which began publishing in January 2001, is linked to the Vozrozheniye Respubliki political movement, which opposes Karachaevo-Cherkessiya Republic’s president, Vladimir Semyonov.

In a separate incident, Igor Rodionov, editor of the daily Moskovsky Komsomolets na Altaye, was assaulted on the morning of April 10 by three unknown assailants in the Siberian city of Barnaul, according to local press reports.

On April 10, Rodionov was assaulted between 7:30 and 8 a.m. as he was leaving his apartment. The attackers beat and stabbed him but did not take his cellular telephone, money, documents, or other valuables, making robbery an unlikely motive.

He was rushed to the local city hospital, where he underwent surgery and remains in stable condition.

Rodionov’s colleagues believe his assault may be connected to his work, local sources report. Moskovsky Komsomolets na Altaye is well known for its investigative journalism and coverage of influential local figures.

Newspaper staff met yesterday with the regional prosecutor, who plans to monitor the investigation personally.

“These incidents provide clear evidence that, despite President Vladimir Putin’s professed goal of imposing the rule of law, journalists continue to be attacked with impunity across Russia,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “We call on authorities to investigate these incidents aggressively and to bring the perpetrators to justice.”