Right groups demand Russian response to reporter's attack
Western right groups urged Russia on Tuesday not to abandon its search for the culprits of the country's latest brutal beating of a reporter who covered controversial social affairs.
Kommersant business daily reporter Oleg Kashin remained in an induced coma after the early Saturday incident but NTV television said that doctors would try to bring him back to consciousness Wednesday.
It appeared uncertain if the 30-year reporter and prolific blogger would be allowed to speak to investigators once he comes to.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists and the rights watchdog Amnesty International said the Russian government must reverse its dire record in such investigations.
The US State Department separately noted Monday that Russia had failed to identify or arrest the culprits of all but one of the eight official reporters' murders last year.
"No one must be considered above the law in Russia. All of the perpetrators must answer before a court of law and be punished for these brutal crimes," the Committee to Protect Journalists' Europe and Central Asia Programme Coordinator Nina Ognianova said in a statement.
Amnesty International for its part conceded that it did not know what might have motivated the attack. But it called on the authorities to investigate every lead possible.
"The Russian authorities must stop this chilling trend of journalists being attacked with impunity," Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia John Dalhuisen said in his own statement.
The Western pressure and outraged reaction in Russia prompted the State Duma lower house of parliament to announce that it was preparing to toughen the prosecution of crimes against reporters.
Duma information policy committee chairman Boris Resnik told Interfax that those convicted of seriously harming a reporter could be sentenced to up to 20 years under the suggested change -- the same as in case of harming a state official.
Moscow authorities meanwhile took the rare step of allowing up to 200 demonstrators to gather in the capital's central Pushkin Square Thursday to "demand that the president and the Russian law enforcement authorities" find the assailants.
© 2010 AFP