European human rights commissioner worried over attacks on journalists in Russia

Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg on Wednesday expressed concern over attacks on journalists in Russia.

Presenting his annual activity report for the Council of Europe’s 47 member states at the PACE spring session, he said that in Russia and some other countries journalists “have been assaulted, some of them killed, by forces which have obviously wanted to silence them.”

Hammarberg regretted that “impunity in criminal cases still persists in Europe” and said such cases should be “thoroughly investigated” and the attackers and those behind them “brought to justice.”

“Also, I have not been convinced that the investigations into these cases have always been sufficiently professional and well supported,” he said without elaborating further.

Earlier Hammarberg urged Russia to investigate more thoroughly the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006.

There have been several unsolved murders of reporters in Russia in recent years, including most famously that of Politkovskaya, a fierce Kremlin critic, who was shot dead in her apartment block on Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s birthday four years ago.

Her murder, like scores of other killings of reporters and attacks on journalists in Russia in recent years, remains unsolved.

Khimki Pravda editor-in-chief Mikhail Beketov was severely beaten in November 2008 for his writing on sensitive social issues, including plans to build a road from Moscow to St. Petersburg through the centuries-old Khimki Forest. In his articles, Beketov wrote against the road construction.

Another Russian journalist, Oleg Kashin, was brutally attacked on November 6. Kashin, who works for Kommersant daily, suffered severe head and leg injuries. It is widely assumed that Kashin was also targeted in revenge for his writing against the road construction through the Khimki Forest.

STRASBOURG, April 13 (RIA Novosti) 

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