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Russia20 January 2009

Editor’s state of health worsens after brutal beating

Mikhaïl Beketov, editor of the newspaper Khimkinskaya Pravda, who was attacked and brutally beaten in the Moscow suburbs on 13 November 2008, has once again sunk into a coma in the past few days.

His lawyer, Stalina Gurevich said doctors had earlier noted an improvement in his condition and moved him to another part of the hospital, but at the start of the year he lapsed into a coma and was put on artificial respiration.

The journalist’s lawyers and family members had been calling in vain for him to be transferred to the Burdenko Hospital where he could receive appropriate treatment.

Beketov had been active in the defence of the Khimki forest on the outskirts of Moscow, threatened by a development project to construct a rapid link between the capital and St Petersburg. One of the editor’s lawyers, Stanislas Markelov, was murdered in central Moscow on 19 January. Investigators are following a number of different leads, without ruling out a link with the assault on Mikhaïl Beketov.

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