Wave of violent attacks target journalists in Penza

September 24, 2002

His Excellency Vladimir Putin
President of the Russian Federation
The Kremlin
Moscow, Russia

Via facsimile: 011-7-095-206-5173 / 206-6277

Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply troubled by a wave of violent attacks against journalists near the southern city of Penza. Most recently, Igor Salikov, director of information security at Propaganda publishing house, was killed soon after a newspaper printed by his employer published a series of articles alleging that local authorities were involved in corruption.

Salikov, 37, was killed at around 1 a.m. on September 20 in Arbekov, a town near Penza. He was walking from his car to the entrance of his home with his wife when two unidentified individuals shot him in the chest and head.

According to the state-run Moscow daily Rossiskaya Gazeta, Salikov had been involved in preparing articles for the Penza weekly Moskovskiy Komsomolets v Penze, which is published by Propaganda, about corruption by local officials.

Local authorities have opened a criminal investigation into the killing.

Salikov’s murder is the latest in a series of attacks against journalists in Penza:

  • On the evening of August 11, two unidentified men entered the office of the opposition newspaper Lyubimiy gorod and beat the editor Anton Sharonov unconscious. Several of Sharonov’s colleagues who attempted to intervene were also beaten.

  • On August 12, several individuals abducted the deputy director of the Propaganda publishing house, Yuriy Frolov. Frolov has not been heard from since.

  • On August 14, Viktor Shamayev, a crime reporter for Penzenskaya pravda, and editor of the newspaper Dlya sluzhbenovo polzovaniya, was abducted in Arbekov under circumstances similar to Frolov’s. Shamaev was taken to a basement in an unknown building, where he was tied to a stool, beaten, and then told to give up journalism and leave town. He was released and reportedly remains in Arbekov.
    Your Excellency, despite your professed goal of imposing the rule of law, journalists continue to be attacked with impunity across Russia. These brutal assaults are profoundly disturbing, and we urge you to do everything within your power to ensure that Russian authorities investigate these attacks and bring those responsible to justice.

    Thank you for your attention to these urgent matters. We await your reply.


    Ann Cooper
    Executive Director