RFE/RL Contributor Files Lawsuit Against Russian Police After Attack

By Siberia.Realities

BLAGOVESHCHENSK, Russia -- A contributor to RFE/RL's Siberia.Realities project in Russia's Far Eastern city of Blagoveshchensk says he has filed a lawsuit against local police, accusing them of inaction after he was attacked by three unknown men last week.

Andrei Afanasyev told RFE/RL that he filed the lawsuit with the local prosecutor’s office on June 14. It charges that police have been reluctant to investigate the attack that took place against him on June 9.

"It looks like police are waiting for the noise around the situation to calm down in order to sweep the case under the carpet," Afanasyev said. "Also, the obstruction of my journalistic activities must be investigated by the Investigative Committee, not just by police."

Afanasyev says one of the attackers knocked him to the ground late at night near his apartment block by hitting him with a metal bar. He says he was then beaten for about 10 minutes by all three assailants.

Afanasyev says he believes the attack was retribution for a recent investigative report he filed about the Akhmat martial arts club in Blagoveshchensk. The manager of that club, Adam Magomadov, is a former leader of the Chechen diaspora community in Russia's Far Eastern Amur region.

Magomadov was arrested in April on an extortion charge.

Afanasyev's reporting revealed that Andrei Domashenkin, a local lawmaker from the ruling United Russia party, had founded the martial arts club.

When questioned by RFE/RL on June about the attack against Afanasyev, Domashenkin said "law enforcement is taking care of that case." He did not elaborate further.

RFE/RL President Jamie Fly has urged Russian authorities to investigate the attack against Afanasyev.

"Russian authorities must thoroughly investigate and hold accountable anyone involved in the attack on Andrei. Investigative journalism is not a crime,” Fly said in a Twitter post on June 11.

The Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ), a New York-based media-rights watchdog, also has called for an immediate investigation into the attack.