Editor hospitalized after beating by two attackers

New York, July 6, 2005—The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by an attack against Nikolai Kochurov, editor-in-chief of Severodvinsk’s independent newspaper, Severodvinsky Rabochy, who was beaten by two unidentified assailants on June 28.

Kochurov remained hospitalized today with head and arm injuries after being struck with a heavy object by assailants who were waiting in the entry to his apartment building as the journalist left for work that morning, according to several local news reports. Police in Severodvinsk, a city in the Arkhangelsk region of northern Russia, opened a criminal case but did not immediately identify suspects.

Investigators and colleagues said Kochurov’s work was a possible motive for the attack. A mobile phone, money, and other belongings were not stolen, according to local news reports.

Severodvinsky Rabochy demonstrates the wide spectrum of public opinions,” Olga Ovchinnikova, the paper’s deputy editor-in-chief, told CPJ in a telephone interview. “Some people could dislike negative information toward them published in the media.”

Kochurov did not tell his colleagues about any threats, Ovchinnikova said, and Severodvinsky Rabochy had not published any recent stories that were particularly controversial. The newspaper publishes four days per week.

“This case needs to be investigated vigorously to combat the pervasive climate of impunity for those who attack journalists in Russia,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. At least a dozen journalists in Russia have been murdered since 2000; no one has been brought to justice in any of the slayings.