People who speak out against the road project at Khimki, north-west of Moscow, which has attracted massive public opposition, stand a good chance of being savagely beaten by thugs with baseball bats.
On Thursday (4 November) Konstantin Fetisov, an activist involved in the campaign, was admitted to hospital in a “serious condition” after being set upon by thugs outside his home. See a press release by Bankwatch, an NGO that monitors project lending and other stuff in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, here http://www.bankwatch.org/project.shtml?apc=147579-2212982—1&x=2265108&d=r
On Saturday it was the turn of the Kommersant journalist Oleg Kashin, who was left by his attackers with two broken legs, a damaged skull and multiple fractures of his jaw. He is now in hospital in an induced coma, as reported by RFE-RL here: http://www.rferl.org/content/Top_Russian_Journalist_In_Intensive_Care_Following_Attack/2212495.html
The attack has incensed Russian public opinion and the president Dmitry Medvedev has called for an urgent investigation. The police will have to improve on their poor record of tracking down journalists’ assailants to convince sceptics, though.
No-one knows exactly why Kashin was attacked, of course. His courageous reporting of the pro-Kremlin youth movement Nashi, or of political opposition movements, could be the reason … as could his coverage of the Khimki affair. See his blog here (Russian only) http://www.kommersant.ru/blogs/blog.aspx?blogID=3.
Mikhail Beketov, the editor of Khimki’s local newspaper, Khimskaya Pravda, was the victim of a similar attack almost exactly two years ago.
There are links to the Khimki campaigners’ web site in the next post down.