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Ukraine8 April 2004

Thugs beat up webmaster of political site

Reporters Without Borders called today for an immediate and thorough investigation of the beating up of Dmitry Pozhydayev, webmaster of the online publication Crimean Linia, by skinheads on 6 April, apparently because of articles recently posted on the website. He remains in hospital with concussion and head injuries.

The press freedom organisation urged the authorities of the Crimean Autonomous Republic to find and punish those responsible and called on them to take steps to ensure the safety of journalists and Internet webmasters working in what it called a dangerous atmosphere.

Pozhydayev said he was attacked as he was going home by four skinheads who threw him to the ground and then kicked and hit him, especially on the head, and stole his mobile phone and wallet, though not his watch.

Pozhydayev said the attack was clearly linked with his work on the website, which supports Crimean prime minister Sergei Kunizin, and had recently carried articles criticising local Communist Party leader Leonid Grach and one of his associates, Mykhailo Bakharev, publisher of the newspaper Crimska Pravda, on which Pozhydayev once worked. The website also ran a series of articles about skinheads in Crimea.

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