IFJ Calls for Swift Action in Russia after Murderous Attack on Journalist

The International Federation of

Journalists (IFJ) has condemned a brutal attack on a leading Russian journalist

and has urged the Russian authorities to act quickly to find the attackers and

bring them to justice.

Moscow journalist Oleg Kashin, an

investigative journalist with Kommersant,

one of Russia's best-known national dailies, was set upon on the night of 5-6

November. His attackers, waiting outside his apartment block, beat him so

severely that his jaw was broken and both legs fractured. After emergency

hospital treatment doctors put him in an induced coma for the next few days.

"Regrettably, this is not an isolated

incident," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "Our research shows that

over 100 journalists in Russia have been targeted in exactly the same way since

2005."

The IFJ says that there is a pattern

to these warning attacks - often the use of iron bars by the attackers. In very

few cases have investigations, for the most part led by the police, led to any

prosecutions. The killings of high-profile journalists such as Anna

Politkovskaya in 2006 remain unsolved and suggest a lack of political will to

respond to violence against reporters.

However, in this latest incident the IFJ

welcomes the decision by the authorities to treat the attack seriously. The

assault on Kashin has been classified as attempted murder and the inquiry is

being led by Moscow city investigative committee, a newly-independent body.

"This is good news, but it is only a

start," said White. "If the high level of impunity for such assaults is to be

tackled, the investigation must be sustained and far more determined than the

failed previous efforts to establish who is behind this sustained campaign of

violence against journalists."

The IFJ is also joining Kommersant's chief editor Mikhail

Mikhailin and the Russian Union of Journalists in calling for the authorities

to recognise that there is a link between the attack and the investigations conducted

by Kashin and his reporting over recent months.

"This is the key element in the

inquiry and only in that way can the people who ordered the attack and those

who carried it out be identified and brought to justice," said White.

The IFJ has also called for the

international community to call on Russia to act more effectively to find those

responsible for attacks on journalists. "So far the response of many

governments, including the European Union, appears feeble and suggests that

they are holding back because of strategic self-interest to do with protecting

access to Russian energy supplies," said White. "If this is so, it's a shameful

betrayal of fundamental rights they claim to defend at home and

abroad."

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32

2 235 22 07

The IFJ represents more than 600.000 members in 125 countries