Nikolai Andrushchenko, a veteran journalist known for his reporting on corruption and police brutality, died in a St. Petersburg hospital on April 19, 2017, from injuries sustained in a beating six weeks earlier. His murder was the first of a journalist in Russia since 2013, according to CPJ research.
Andrushchenko, 73, was on his way to a business meeting on March 9, 2017, when unknown assailants severely beat him, according to press reports. Andrushchenko’s colleague, Alevtina Ageyeva, told CPJ that she was not aware of any witnesses to the attack. He was found unconscious several hours later and taken to a hospital where doctors performed brain surgery and left him in a medically induced coma, Ageyeva said. He died April 19 without regaining consciousness, she said, adding that recently “his state [had been] improving; he had started breathing on his own.”
Andrushchenko was known for his criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his investigative reports alleging corruption and human rights abuses, including by local police. Ageyeva, who co-founded Novy Peterburg with Andrushchenko in 1990, told CPJ that the journalist was a “constant irritant for the authorities,” and added that she had “no doubt that he was killed for his journalism.”
Denis Usov, who also worked with Andrushchenko at Novy Peterburg, told CPJ on May 17, 2017, that the police had not contacted the newspaper since initially opening a preliminary probe into the March 9 beating, and that the newspaper had not been informed of any progress in the investigation.
In the weeks that followed Andrushchenko’s beating, a police source told the Russian pro-government news site Life that the preliminary probe found that Andrushchenko fell while under the influence of alcohol, hitting his head hard, and ruled out the opening of a criminal case.
Ageyeva told CPJ that Andrushchenko had suffered physical attacks in the past. In November 2016, she said, several assailants beat him on his doorstep. Ageyeva said that his attackers couldn’t “finish the job” because the journalist’s neighbors interfered.
He was also beaten in November 2007, weeks before police raided the newspaper’s office and a court jailed him for two months’ pretrial detention on charges of defamation and obstruction of justice stemming from his reporting on a murder investigation, CPJ reported at the time.
“He endured many physical attacks and made it through every time,” Ageyeva told CPJ. “But not this time.”