Paper: Ekho Moskvy editor recipient of lurid ‘message’ amid rise in assaults on Russian journalists

Publish date: February 8, 2009

An ax embedded in a log was found outside the apartment of Alexei Venediktov, editor of Russia’s largest independent radio station, Ekho Moskvy, the Russian daily Moskovsky Komsomolets reported.

The discovery apparently ratchets up the stakes independent journalists are up against in a war of threats, beatings and killings that have escalated against reporters in the past three months.

Just last month, Novaya Gazeta reporter Anistasiya Baburova, 25, and Stanislav Markelov, 34, a prominent human rights lawyer, were shot dead in central Moscow by a masked gunman who is still at large.

Venediktov found the ax on Wednesday night, the night before a nearly deadly assault on 72-year-old Yury Grachev, the editor of an opposition leaning suburban Moscow newspaper occurred. Also found on the landing outside Venediktov’s centrally located apartment was a video camera, trained on his apartment door, crudely attached to the elevator shaft with tape, said Moskovsky Komsomolets.

Venediktov is, according to the paper, away on business in Munich, Germany, and has issued no public statements on the find. The incident was, apparently, reported to the police, as the newspaper’s report on the incident was based on anonymous information from law enforcement officials.

Moskovsky Komsomolets also reported that Grachev remained in hospital in stable condition, but interviews with him and his wife indicate that police are scrubbing investigating the incident and chalking Grachev’s injuries, which include a concussion, a broken nose, and a cheek laceration, as accidental or even self-inflicted.

Moskovsy Komsomolets also carried updates on the condition of Mikahil Beketov, editor of another suburban Moscow newspaper noted for its corruption exposés and environmental leanings, who was beaten in a nearly lethal assault in November. The paper said he has undergone several operations, including neurosurgery. One of his feet and fingers from his left hand were also amputated. He is still too enfeebled to talk to investigators about his attack, the paper reported.

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