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Russia18 March 2005

Political journalist beaten up during an election campaign

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Reporters Without Borders said it was "completely outraged" by a cowardly assault against political journalist Viktor Naikhin, which local security services had dismissed as an everyday crime.

The worldwide press freedom organisation called on the prosecutor general and the interior minister to immediately investigate the link to his work, which a number of features of the case pointed to, and "quickly punish those responsible for this act of extreme violence".

Viktor Naikhin, better known under the pseudonym Viktor Baker, correspondent for newspapers Moyo and Komsomolskaya Pravda, was brutally attacked on 8 March 2005, at his home in Voronej, as he was covering municipal and regional elections.

Naikhin was contacted on 8 March by a ex-colleague, a former journalist on Gubernia local television, to discuss a topic which he had just finished filming. He arrived with three other people, aged around 30, and suggested filming an aspect of the Voronjeh election campaign. When Naikhin refused, two of them began to beat him viciously and to demand money. They also ordered him to "lay off the deputies" but refused to specify which deputies they were talking about. "To explain it we will have to beat you some more," they simply said.

They beat the journalist for about 40 minutes and left him unconscious and with three broken ribs, concussion and a badly bruised face. He temporarily lost the use of his right hand.

They also stole his computer hard disc, his tape recorder, digital camera, mobile phone, credit card and 2,000 roubles.

The assailants have still not been traced and police have not questioned Naikhin’s former colleague, who was clearly identified.

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