CPJ concerned about health of jailed editor

New York, July 3, 2007—
The Committee to Protect Journalists expressed concern today about the health and well-being of Boris Stomakhin, editor of the small Moscow monthly Radikalnaya Politika (Radical Politics), who has been imprisoned for the past 15 months.

On June 25, Stomakhin was transferred from a Moscow prison to a prison in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, 410 kilometers (255 miles) southeast of the capital. Officials did not tell Stomakhin, his family, or defense counsel what prompted the transfer or how long it would last, local press reports said. Stomakhin uses a cane to walk because of a fractured spine and a knee injury, according to his lawyer, Karen Nersisian, who spoke with CPJ today.

“We are concerned about Boris Stomakhin’s health and the level of medical care available to him in prison,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “Stomakhin has already spent 15 months in prison because of his writing. We call on Russian authorities to release him immediately.”

In November 2005, the Butyrsky District Court in Moscow sentenced Stomakhin to five years in prison on charges of inciting ethnic hatred and making public appeals for extremism in the pages of Radikalnaya Politika. He and his family said authorities were punishing him for his harsh criticism of Kremlin policy in Chechnya.

The charges stemmed from a December 2003 complaint filed by two Communist Party members who said Radikalnaya Politika was run by “Chechen bandits,” the human rights news agency Prima reported. Police raided Stomakhin’s apartment in April 2004, confiscating his computer, copies of Radikalnaya Politika, computer disks, books, leaflets, and other editorial material. Stomakhin fled for a time to Ukraine where he unsuccessfully sought political asylum.

He was arrested on March 22, 2006, a day after he fell from the window of his fourth-floor Moscow apartment while trying to elude police, according to local press reports. Stomakhin suffered the leg and back injuries in the fall. He was held at the Matroskaya Tishina prison in Moscow until the recent transfer.