New York, April 27, 2017–Russian authorities should thoroughly investigate two attacks against journalists yesterday and bring those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
An unknown assailant threw a green antiseptic–zelyonka, which contains a dye that can take more than a month to remove–at investigative journalist Galina Sidorova, who was in the city of Yoshkar-Ola, roughly 770 kilometers (480 miles) east of Moscow, to train local reporters on behalf of the Russian School of Investigative Journalism. A few hours later, the window of the building where she and her colleagues were planning to hold the training was smashed, and a dead rat was left on the floor, media reported. Sidorova reported the incident to local police, the reports said.
In a separate incident yesterday, unknown assailants also threw zelyonka, eggs, and flour at Ilya Varlamov, a well-known blogger and contributor to the independent radio station Ekho Moskvy, as he arrived at the airport of the North Caucasian city of Stavropol. When he stepped out of a car in central Stavropol, a group of men again threw zelyonka at him, Varlamov wrote. Varlamov writes about cities and infrastructure, and often criticizes local authorities for alleged negligence and corruption. Varlamov wrote on his blog that he had also filed a report with local police.
“The green tinge of dye may last for weeks, but the intimidating effect on Russia’s independent journalists could last far longer,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “Russian authorities should swiftly and efficiently investigate the attacks against Galina Sidorova and Ilya Varlamov and bring those responsible to justice.”
According to the Russian service of the U.S.-government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which has broadcast Sidorova’s freelance contributions in the past, the School of Investigative Journalism’s workshops have been obstructed before. Most recently, in November 2016, police ordered participants in a workshop in Syktyvkar, roughly 1300 kilometers (800 miles) northeast of Moscow, to vacate the building because of a bomb threat. No bomb was discovered.
Following the incident involving Sidorova, Grigory Pasko, a veteran investigative journalist and the head of the School of Investigative Journalism, a nonprofit, wrote on his Facebook page that the organization was “under the threat of closure again” because of the regular attacks on its workshops.
In September 2016, Pasko himself was severely beaten and threatened in Barnaul, the capital of Russia’s southern Siberian republic of Altai, where he planned to organize another journalism training, CPJ reported at the time.