Council of Europe praises Medvedev reaction to media attacks

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Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjoern Jagland on Wednesday welcomed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's rare condemnation of recent attacks on journalists.

"I am very encouraged by President Medvedev's strong stance against these attacks. This should help to better protect human rights and fundamental freedoms", the Norwegian said in a statement.

Jagland said attacks on reporters limited the freedom of expression in Russia.

Medvedev promised to punish those behind Sunday's beating of Kommersant business daily journalist Oleg Kashin, which left the reporter in a coma and generated a wave of criticism in both state and opposition media.

Two other journalists were victims of attacks the following day, underscoring the dangerous environment in which reporters operate in Russia, although one of them was accused of staging the event by local authorities.

Medvedev, who is seen as more sympathetic to media and other rights issues than his predecessor Vladimir Putin, took the unusual step of reacting to speculation that investigators may sweep Kashin's case under the rug like many similar ones before it.

© 2010 AFP

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