Paris, September 13, 2022 — Russian authorities should swiftly investigate the assault on Badma Byurchiyev, determine whether it was linked to his journalistic activity, and hold the perpetrators to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.
On Thursday, September 8, unidentified people attacked Byurchiyev, a news reporter with independent news website Kavkazsky Uzel (Caucasian Knot), in front of his home in the southwestern Russian city of Elista, according to multiple media reports, a report by his outlet, and the journalist, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.
Byurchiyev, who primarily covers politics and human rights issues, said he believes the beating was either connected to his journalistic work or his previous participation in protests as an activist from 2019 to 2021. “They did not say a word when they beat me. Only at the end did one of them say, swearing, ‘Are you going to do any more f—– up s—?’ I could not see their faces,” the journalist told CPJ.
Byurchiyev added that the attack comes at a time of heightened political violence in Elista, which the journalist has been covering for Kavkazsky Uzel. “We have already had attacks on opposition politicians and civil activists — someone was beaten up; someone’s car was burned. I think that the attack on me is part of this chain of events,” he said. “I think they are just intimidating people, pushing them out of Russia.”
“CPJ condemns the violent attack on journalist Badma Byurchiyev and calls on the Russian authorities to swiftly investigate it and determine whether it was connected to his reporting,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Russian authorities must do everything to find the perpetrators of the assault and hold them accountable.”
On the evening of September 8, a group of four or five people wearing dark clothes stood next to a bench in front of Byurchiyev’s home and attacked him when he walked home, the reports said. “They were waiting for me at the building’s entrance,” Byurchiyev told CPJ. “They were prepared.”
The attackers punched Byurchiyev in the head until he fell, landing under a lilac bush behind a low fence where the attackers struggled to reach him, according to those sources. Byurchiyev said he covered his head, and the attackers “hit me on the head a few more times from above” before running away.
Byurchiyev told CPJ that doctors examined him at a hospital for head injuries and contusions, but that he felt fine. He added that he filed a report at the police department in Elista, but as of September 12, he had not received an update on the case.
CPJ’s call to the police department in Elista did not connect.