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Russia6 April 2005

News photographer badly beaten by police in Voronezh

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Reporters Without Borders wrote to the Russian public prosecutor and interior minister today voicing outrage about a beating that photographer Vladimir Lavrov of the local newspaper Moyo in Voronezh (500 km south of Moscow) received on 30 March from several policemen, who also took his digital camera’s memory card with photos for the newspaper’s next issue.

(JPEG) "This was the second time that a journalist was beaten up in the Voronezh region during the month of March," the letter said. "This sort of practice has no place in a democracy and must be brought to an end immediately in order to prevent a climate of impunity from taking hold in this region," the letter added, calling for an investigation.

The incident took place when Lavrov saw a group of policemen in the process of detaining about 30 young football supporters. He approached the police, introduced himself as a news photographer, showed his press card and took several photos.

As he left, he was suddenly assaulted by several uniformed and plain-clothes police who pushed him under the arch of a building, threw him to the ground, punched him several times in the face and then departed with his camera’s memory card, leaving him almost unconscious.

Several colleagues took him to hospital where he was treated for bruises and eye injuries. The next morning, he filed a complaint at the local office of the interior ministry.

Viktor Naikhin, a correspondent for Moyo and Komsomolskaya Pravda, was beaten unconscious by thugs at his home in Voronezh on 8 March 2005, at time when he was covering municipal and regional elections. He suffered concussion, bruising to the face and three broken ribs, and temporarily lost the use of his right hand.

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