Journalist severely beaten in the Russian far east

New York, January 22, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the brutal assault on Tamara Golovanova, a reporter for the newspaper Vesti in the far eastern city of Partizansk, who was beaten on Friday while covering a story at a municipal office.

The attack occurred in mid-afternoon, when Golovanova was interviewing people at the city employment office who were filing complaints that their employer, a local company, had failed to pay them, according to local and international press reports. When Golovanova photographed the people waiting in line, an unidentified man demanded that she stop taking pictures, according to local press reports.

Golovanova told the man that she was allowed to take photos in a public place, Vesti Deputy Editor Oleg Zinchenko told the Moscow-based Interfax news agency. Moments later, as Golovanova walked upstairs to seek comment from the office director, the same man struck her several times in the face and chest, Vesti Editor-in-Chief Olga Aksakova told the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. Golovanova was taken to a hospital where she was treated for a concussion and a broken nose.

“It’s outrageous that a reporter working outside a city government office could be beaten in broad daylight—and it’s especially distressing given Russia’s record of impunity in crimes against journalists,” Executive Director Joel Simon said. “We urge authorities to investigate thoroughly and bring those responsible to justice in order to send a clear signal that attacks on the press will not be condoned.”

The attack came hours before another Russian reporter was slain. Konstantin Borovko, an anchor for the local Guberniya television station in the city of Khabarovsk, was beaten to death in the nearby city of Vladivostok early Saturday. Authorities have not ruled out any motives but said the evidence suggests the killing occurred during the course of a robbery, according to international and local press reports. Guberniya editor Inna Perekhozheva said she did not think Borovko, who hosted a morning cultural affairs program, was targeted because of his work, The Associated Press reported.

Local police have opened criminal investigations of both crimes. No suspects have been identified or detained in either case.