Local journalist violently attacked

New York, March 17, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the violent attack against Aleksandr Krutov, a journalist with the independent weekly newspaper Bogatei in the city of Saratov, in southern Russia.

According to Russian news reports, three unknown assailants attacked the journalist on the evening of Thursday, March 13, outside his home. One of the attackers hit Krutov in the head, knocking him to the ground, and the three beat him. The perpetrators fled the scene after snatching Krutov’s briefcase.

Krutov sustained head injuries, including a torn eardrum in his left ear, and severe bruising. The journalist, who is recovering at home, does not know when he will be able to return to work.

Police visited Krutov immediately after the attack and opened a criminal investigation into the incident.

Krutov told CPJ he is convinced the attack is connected to his work. At the time of the attack, Krutov was working on a story questioning the validity of the regional prosecutor’s case against Sergei Shuvalov, the chairman of the Saratov Regional Duma, who had allegedly caused a public disturbance on a flight from Beijing to Moscow.

Krutov recently began receiving offers of money not to print the article. At the time of the attack, the article had not yet been published.

Krutov is known for his investigative journalism of the Saratov Region’s political figures and politics and has previously been attacked. According to the Moscow-based Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, he was brutally beaten by unknown assailants in 1996 and 1999. Both attacks were apparently related to his journalism.

“We demand a thorough investigation into this incident,” said Joel Simon, acting director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “And we urge regional and federal authorities to see that the perpetrators are brought to justice.”