Editor threatened, cameraman assaulted

JANUARY 27, 2006

Aleksandr Sveshnikov, Bogatei
Yuri Smirnov, TVTs-Saratov

Sveshnikov, deputy editor of the newspaper Bogatei, was threatened and Smirnov, cameraman with the television station TVTs-Saratov, was assaulted. The incidents came as the journalists tried to cover the government’s seizure of a building hosting the institute Saratovpromproekt in the Volga region city of Saratov. A Volzhky district court had ruled that the building was in violation of fire safety rules, according to local press reports.

Sveshnikov and two other reporters were waiting in the building’s vestibule about 9 a.m. when a man approached and claimed he was the building’s landlord. The man insulted and threatened Sveshnikov, prompting the reporters to leave, the Saratov Glasnost and Press Freedom Defense Foundation reported.

When Smirnov arrived an hour later with a camera, the purported landlord pushed him, according to local reports. Smirnov lost his balance and fell; the man briefly seized the camera and removed its tape.

The Volzhky police department is investigating, according to the new Web site Region. and other local reports. The building’s ownership said that the man was not the landlord and it had no idea who he was, local reports said.