Investigator Denies Threatening Journalist in Forest
Published: June 14, 2012 (Issue # 1712)
Bastrykin reportedly threatened Sergei Sokolov, above, deputy editor of Novaya Gazeta.
Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin on Thursday denied driving the deputy editor of a prominent liberal-leaning newspaper into the woods and threatening his life over critical coverage.
“I haven’t been in a forest in I don’t know how long. My work is so pressured that I’m not able to take trips into nature,” Bastrykin told Izvestia.
Also on Thursday, the country’s top investigator agreed to meet with Novaya Gazeta editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov, Interfax reported. Muratov claimed in an open letter published Wednesday that Bastrykin had intimidated his deputy editor, Sergei Sokolov, in a Moscow region forest and that several attempts to arrange a meeting had failed.
In the interview with Izvestia, Bastrykin admitted that he reacted angrily to Sokolov’s article on investigators’ handling of the case of Sergei Tsepovyaz, a reputed member of the notorious Kushchyovskaya gang, which murdered 12 people, including small children, in 2011.
Tsepovyaz was let off with a 150,000 ruble ($4,600) fine for covering up the crime.
“I was simply offended — not so much for myself, but for my investigators who risk their lives to do their work,” Bastrykin said.
Bastrykin referred to his conversation with Sokolov, who was accompanying the investigator on a trip to Nalchik at the time the threats were reportedly made, as “emotional” and “in raised tones.”
The Investigative Committee head also painted Novaya Gazeta in an unflattering light, saying the newspaper acted “in a base and disgusting manner” by accusing investigators of selling out to the Kushchyovskaya gang.