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IFJ/EFJ Saddened by Death of Russian Journalist from Severe Beating

10 April 2013

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its European group, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) are deeply saddened by the death of Russian journalist Mikhail Beketov on Monday 8 April. The former editor of the independent newspaper Khimkinskaya Pravda died of heart failure in a Moscow hospital after choking on food.

In November 2008, Beketov was beaten up and left out in the cold to die. He lost three fingers and part of his leg and suffered long term brain damage. Mr Beketov's death this week was a direct consequence of the injuries he sustained in that assault.

"I am deeply saddened, but also angry to hear of the death of Mikhail Beketov. Our thoughts go out to his family and we will remember him when working for his colleagues who still suffer from such threats and impunity daily," said EFJ President Arne König.

Beketov had been inserted with a breathing tube in life-saving surgery following the assault. However the operation also left scars that caused food to block the airflow to his lungs, eventually leading to heart failure.
In 2012, Beketov was awarded a journalism prize by Russian President Vladimir Putin who promised that his attackers would be found and prosecuted. Despite the promises nobody has been punished for the assault that led to his death.

"We condemn the fact that, for carrying out his work in Russia under President Vladimir Putin, a journalist gets beaten and the criminals never get prosecuted," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha.
The IFJ/EFJ has reiterated its calls for President Putin to stand by his word to follow up with the case. It is one of a long list of impunity cases being monitored by the IFJ/EFJ and its affiliate in Russia, the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ).

In 2011 the IFJ/RUJ launched a database, http://mediaconflictsinrussia.org/, that records non-fatal assaults on journalists. It was partly inspired by Beketov’s case arguing that such assaults are as effective at silencing journalists as their deaths.

This followed the ‘Deaths of Journalists in Russia’ database, http://journalists-in-russia.org/, launched in 2009 in response to the murder of Anna Politkovskaya.

The Russian Union of Journalists has encouraged all international media and civil society organisations that defend the rights and safety of journalists and media staff to honour the memory of Mr Beketov, to strengthen professional solidarity and make every effort to prevent such tragedies in the future.

For more information, please contact EFJ on + 32 2 235 22 00
The European Federation of Journalists represents over 300,000 journalists in 37 countries.