In Moscow, radio host hospitalized after being attacked

New York, May 29, 2012–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a brutal attack on a radio journalist on Monday and calls on Russian authorities to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.

On Monday night, an unidentified man attacked Sergey Aslanyan, a journalist for the state-owned broadcaster Radio Mayak, outside his apartment in Moscow, hitting him on the head with a heavy object and stabbing him multiple times in the chest, neck, and hands, according to news reports. Aslanyan survived the attack and was able to call the police, news reports said. He underwent surgery for the attack, according to the independent news website Gazeta, and is in stable condition, news reports said.

Sergey Arkhipov, deputy director of Radio Mayak’s management company, visited Aslanyan in the hospital and told journalists that the assailant had said, “You don’t like Allah,” before attacking him.

Aslanyan, who hosts a news and entertainment show on the automobile industry on Radio Mayak, told online news portal Life News that the attack could be connected to a comment he had made on his show, which Russia’s Muslim community had found insulting of Prophet Muhammad and Islam. According to the independent news website Lenta, in his May 14 show, Aslanyan said Prophet Muhammad was a businessman and compared Islam to a successful business project. Aslanyan later publicly apologized for the comment, the BBC Russian service reported.

Arkhipov told Gazeta that Aslanyan did not report receiving any prior threats, and said that his colleagues hoped the attacker would be brought to justice. Moscow police opened the probe into the incident, its press service reported on the website.

“Russian authorities must not allow impunity to reign in yet another attack on a journalist,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “The Moscow police must conduct the probe in the most professional and transparent way, and bring Aslanyan’s attacker to justice.”

Impunity in attacks on the press remains high in Russia, CPJ research shows. Despite high-level promises of justice, including by former President Dmitry Medvedev, Russian investigators have failed to name and apprehend those responsible for vicious attacks on Mikhail Beketov of the independent newspaper Khimkinskaya Pravda and Oleg Kashin of the prominent business daily Kommersant. Many other attacks and murders of journalists remain unsolved, according to CPJ data.