Russia charges three suspects over 2010 attack on reporter Oleg Kashin

New York, September 9, 2015–The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the announcement that authorities have detained three suspects in the November 2010 attack that severely injured Russian reporter Oleg Kashin. CPJ urges Russian investigators to further investigate the case and bring all those responsible to justice.

Two men accosted and brutally beat Kashin with metal rods outside his apartment building in Moscow on November 6, 2010. The journalist, who at the time worked for independent business daily Kommersant, was left with a fractured skull and a broken jaw, fingers, and leg, reports said. He spent two weeks in a medically induced coma. The brazen assault prompted an outcry among Russian journalists and then-President Dmitry Medvedev publicly pledged to bring the attackers to justice, according to reports.

“This is a welcome first step on the road to achieving justice for Oleg Kashin, but authorities must not stop there,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “Too many killers of journalists still walk free in Russia. Those who ordered this crime as well as those who carried it out must be brought to justice. Not to do so merely continues this murderous cycle of impunity.”

Kashin announced on his website on September 7 that Russia’s Investigative Committee, a federal agency tasked with solving grave crimes, had detained and charged three suspects in the attack. Aleksandr Gorbunov, Danila Veselov, and Mikhail Kavtaskin have each been charged with attempted murder, committing an unfinished grave crime, and arms trafficking, according to Kashin and news reports. According to independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, authorities arrested Veselov and Kavtaskin in May, and arrested Gorbunov in June. Kashin wrote that a fourth suspect in the case, Vyacheslav Borisov, has allegedly fled Russia for Belarus.

According to Kashin and news reports, Gorbunov is alleged to have arranged the attack and allegedly paid 3.3 million rubles (about U.S.$108,000 at the time) to the suspected assailants, Veselov and Borisov, and Kavtaskin, who is accused of driving the getaway car. Gorbunov denied the charges and appealed his arrest, but a district court in St Petersburg ruled today to keep him in pre-trial custody, reports said.

Kommersant reported today that investigators believe Kashin was attacked after he publicly insulted Gorbunov’s friend and Pskov region governor Andrey Turchak in a personal blog post. Kashin, who left Russia in 2013, wrote on his website this week that the three men suspected of carrying out the attack worked at a company owned by Turchak’s family. According to Kommersant, Kashin and his lawyers today called on investigators to take a statement from Turchak.

Russia has consistently featured in CPJ’s Global Impunity Index, a list of counties where journalists are slain and their killers go free.