New York, April 1, 2008—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Thursday’s attack on Arseny Makhlov, founder of the independent weekly Dvornik, in the western city of Svetlogorsk, Kaliningrad region.
An unidentified assailant stabbed Makhlov twice in the back at around 7 p.m. as he was leaving a local restaurant, the journalist told CPJ. The attacker fled the scene immediately after. Makhlov was briefly hospitalized. Prosecutors in Svetlogorsk opened a criminal investigation into what they consider an act of hooliganism, Makhlov told CPJ. He said he believes the attack is related to his journalism.
“We are alarmed by this brazen attack on Arseny Makhlov and call on Russian prosecutors to conduct a thorough investigation,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “Russia has a troubling record of impunity in attacks against independent journalists who report on sensitive issues.”
Dvornik covers various political and social issues in Kaliningrad and often criticizes the activities of local authorities. According to the news agency Regnum, a recent story in Dvornik highlighted a dubious purchase of a landmarked building by a private company; the publication attracted the attention of Kaliningrad’s governor, who said he would not permit the improper use of a landmarked site.
Dvornik’s managing editor, Aleksei Shabunin, told CPJ he knew of no threats made to any of the staff members. The paper reported today that Makhlov’s attacker was a tall, young man who wore a black jacket and a wool hat.