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Russia28 November 2008

Lawyer for beaten editor offers 500,000 roubles reward and laments lack of progress in investigation

Stalina Gurevich, lawyer for newspaper editor Mikhail Beketov, who was attacked and brutally beaten on 13 November, announced a reward for information on those who instigated or carried out the attack and condemned lack of progress in the investigation.

She joined Andrei Stolbunov, vice-president of the human rights organisation Spravedlivost (Justice) in offering a reward of 500,000 roubles (about 14,000 euros).

This came the day after a press conference at which Gurevich said that “nobody is doing anything about this investigation”. Beketov, editor of Khimkinskaya Pravda, remains in intensive care in a serious condition at the Sklifossovski Institute. He has come out of a coma but is still unable to speak.

“”The impunity enjoyed by those who assault and murder journalists is one of the key threats to press freedom in Russia,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It is vital for the authorities to show that this contempt for the law and for human life can no longer be tolerated”.

Gurevich told the press conference that since the opening of the investigation it had been transferred several times and no examining magistrate was currently in charge of it.

Earlier charges were replaced with “attempted murder” on 25 November, after the seriousness of the journalist’s injuries was clarified. The investigation was initially put in the hands of Moscow’ City’s interior ministry and then transferred to prosecutor’s office follow-up committee.

A number of leads are now being followed, including the fact that Beketov’s newspaper carries articles highly critical of the local authorities.

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