TODAY: Shocked reactions to Kashin beating pour in as CCTV footage circulates; second journalist attacked; Medvedev vows to find perpetrators. Moscow authorities refuse to sanction Day of Wrath protest; further blow for opposition parties. New head of NATO’s Moscow information office; Islamic identity in Russia
Following the weekend’s brutal attack on Kommersant journalist Oleg Kashin (footage of which has been broadcast on Life News), the Independent reports that another journalist, Anatoly Adamchuk, who also covered the controversial Moscow-St Petersburg highway, has been attacked by two men outside his office. President Dmitry Medvedev has pledged to punish those responsible for the Kashin attack, even if they are senior officials. ‘It’s just words, nothing will be solved’. A Washington Post editorial is similarly skeptical: ‘This would be encouraging – except for the fact that those responsible for past beatings and murders of Russian journalists and civic activists have never been held accountable, despite similar presidential pledges’. See here for the Union of Journalists of Russia’s idea for an open-ended protest. The European Commission has voiced ‘a very profound concern’ over the number of attacks on journalists in Russia, whilst the US has called it ‘a heinous crime’. RFE/RL considers the possible culprits. The first deputy of United Russia has argued that ‘business conflicts’ will have prompted the attack, as opposed to clashes with the political authorities. The Russian Presidential Council for Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights has prepared amendments to the nation’s Criminal Code to reinforce punishments for those blocking journalistic activities.
Old habits die hard? Moscow’s new city authorities have denied approval for an opposition ‘Day of Wrath’ protest, on the pretext that the rally might damage the statue of city’s founder. Medvedev’s decision to veto a bill restricting the right to protest is little source of comfort to Other Russia party leader Eduard Limonov: ‘we have hundreds of repressive laws, and this is not a cause for a great amount of joy’. The President has also pledged to crack down on police being used in ‘protection rackets’. In what opposition politicians have called a blow to democracy, political parties are no longer allowed to publish their platforms in Rossiiskaya Gazeta until they have been registered by the Justice Ministry.
Obama’s silence on the Khodorkovsky trial is ‘a weak chapter’ in the President’s history, says Jackson Diehl. Following an 18-month vacancy, prompted by last year’s spy scandal, NATO has appointed a new head of its Moscow Information Office. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili is gleeful on recent spy arrests. Paul Goble analyzes the Internet’s role in the rise of Islam in Russia.
PHOTO: Ilya Yashin, at Interior Ministry headquarters Monday in Moscow, demanded that Oleg Kashin’s attackers be apprehended. (Misha Japaridze/Associated Press)