Friday, November 12, 2010

Media freedom in Russia Smashing the messengers

November 11, 2010

Late on November 5th Oleg Kashin, a journalist with Kommersant, a Russian daily, was almost bludgeoned to death in the courtyard of his house in central Moscow. The assault was both shocking and demonstrative in its brutality. As Mr Kashin’s peers related it, the attackers smashed his fingers so the journalist could not write, broke his jaw so he could not talk and broke a leg so he could not walk. Doctors had to put Mr Kashin into an induced coma to avoid a pain shock.

Mr Kashin wrote about big issues in Russian society. A sharp publicist, he switched sides, made enemies and faced threats. Kremlin-sponsored youth thugs had called him a traitor and pledged to punish him. His writing also upset local officials in Khimki, a suburb of Moscow where a battle has unfolded over plans to build a road through a forest. (The Russian firm carrying out the construction has powerful political connections.) The Khimki battle has already claimed several victims. Only a day before the attack on Mr Kashin a local activist was beaten up.