OSCE Representative condemns attacks on journalists in Russia, calls on authorities for swift and thorough investigations
VIENNA, 27 August 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today condemned several recent attacks on journalists in the Pskov region, in western Russia.
“I urge the authorities to swiftly and thoroughly investigate these attacks and bring the perpetrators and masterminds behind these acts to justice,” Mijatović wrote in a letter to Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
According to reports, on 26 August journalists Vladimir Romensky (Dozhd TV), Ilya Vasyunin (Russkaya Planeta), Nina Petlyanova (Novaya Gazeta), Irina Tumakova (Fontanka.ru), Sergey Kovalchenko and Sergey Zorin (both with Telegraph) were attacked and intimidated by a number of individuals, while reporting on issues allegedly related to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Romensky and Vasyunin were told to stop their work and immediately leave Pskov. Petlyanova and Tumakova were detained at a cemetery in Vybuty village near Pskov; photos taken by them were deleted, their passports and reporter identification cards were seized and they were forced to leave the site. The four journalists returned to Vybuty village the same day and were again attacked.
Also on 26 August, Kovalchenko and Zorin were detained at a cemetery in Pskov by a number of individuals, who seized their cameras and forced them to delete all photos.
The Representative also noted that investigative journalist Alexander Krutov with Obshchestvennoye Mneniye magazine was brutally beaten on 26 August by a number of individuals close to his home in Saratov. He sustained multiple injuries, including concussion and stab wounds, and had to seek medical treatment. Krutov has been attacked several times before without the assailants being brought to justice.
These incidents follow recent attacks on the chief editor of Derbentskie Izvestiya newspaper, Magomed Khanmagomedov, and Echo Moskvy journalist Arseniy Vesnin, which Mijatović raised with the authorities on 21 and 25 August respectively.
“These attacks serve as a grim reminder of the appalling situation regarding journalists’ safety in Russia. Journalists are being targeted because of their work and this contributes to an atmosphere of fear, which undermines the very pillar of free expression and free media – investigative journalism,” Mijatović said.
The Representative said she was confident that a visit to Moscow in the near future would help address ways to improve journalists’ safety and enhance co-operation between her Office and the authorities of the Russian Federation.
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on facebook.com/osce.rfom.