Russian journalist beaten unconscious outside office

Attack on Anatoly Adamchuk as he left Zhukovsky office occurred 48 hours after another reporter was beaten with iron bar

Two young men beat a Russian journalist unconscious outside his office today, 48 hours after another reporter was attacked with an iron bar.

In the latest incident, Anatoly Adamchuk was attacked as he left the offices of his weekly newspaper in Zhukovsky, 25 miles from Moscow. "Two men aged about 25 attacked him as he stepped out of our offices, shortly after 2am," said Sergei Grammatin, a fellow reporter at the newspaper. "They hit him twice on the back of the head with their fists and then struck him again when he fell down."

News of the attack spread quickly in the wake of a savage beating in Moscow on Saturday of Oleg Kashin, 30, a blogger and reporter with the Kommersant.

Adamchuk was unconscious for 15 minutes. Coming to, he called a friend. Police questioned him and opened a theft investigation because he lost a memory stick.

But his colleagues believe the assault was revenge for his journalism. "Anatoly says the attackers mentioned the name of our newspaper," Grammatin said. "We think it was connected with his work."

Adamchuk – who was taken to hospital – had reported critically on plans to construct a road through a forest in Zhukovsky. A recent article focused on police arresting a group of schoolchildren who had drawn pictures in defence of the trees.

It was unclear whether there might be a link to the attack on Kashin. CCTV footage of that attack was leaked to Russian media today. One of the main theories on why Kashin was targeted concerns his criticism of another road project that threatens Khimki forest, also near Moscow. Russia's president, Dmitry Medvedev, said it was clear that Kashin was attacked because of his work. "It's not the way wallets usually get stolen," he said on television, adding that the attackers would be found, "no matter who was behind it".

Kashin's colleagues have been critical of police, saying the investigation, into what they believe was his attempted murder, has been inept. His wife, Yevgeniya Milova, also a Kommersant journalist, said she was asked six times if he was gay.

Kashin was in a serious but stable condition in hospital. His jaw and a leg were broken, his skull fractured and several fingers crushed in the attack.

Russian news agencies today reported another attack on a journalist. Sergei Mikhailov, editor in chief of the Saratov Reporter, was struck on the head by an unknown assailant on Friday, and briefly lost consciousness. Mikhailov said he had written critically about an MP, who then sent him a text message saying: "Your activity will not be without consequences."

However, police said the attack was not connected to the editor's work.


Tom Parfitt in Moscow

The GuardianTramp

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