Russia’s Dying Journalists

Following a brief visit to Moscow, Jeff Bercovici of Forbes politely asks why Russian journalists continually face worse and worse conditions, with an emphasis on the recent savage attack on Oleg Kashin of Kommersant.

The journalists I met, both the Russians and the expats, love what they do, and they’re remarkably generous when it comes to helping out their nominal rivals. They are, in short, top-notch drinking companions — warm, funny, wry, spontaneous, spilling over with energy and enthusiasm.

They’re so much fun, it’s easy to overlook how unbelievably brave they are — how brave they have to be to do what they do. Until, all of a sudden, it’s not easy.

On my last night in Moscow I met Oleg Kashin, a reporter for thenewspaper Kommersant. Though he’s only a baby-faced 30, Oleg has alreadymade a name for himself, in part with his reports on pro-Kremlin youthgroups. Early this morning, two unidentified men assaulted Oleg outsidehis home, breaking his jaw, skull and both his legs, and beating him sosavagely they tore off a finger. He’s now in a coma. You can read more about the assault here.  (…)

The beatings and killings haven’t been enough to frighten off myfriends in Moscow, and I don’t think they will be. They’ll take someextra precautions and watch each others’ backs and find ways to get thestories they’re after. But imagine what Russia could become if itweren’t the kind of place where brave, honest, curious young people haveto worry that using their extravagant talents to help their countrygrow up will get them murdered?