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Attacked Russian journalist Kashin regains consciousness

Oleg Kashin

MOSCOW, November 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russian journalist Oleg Kashin, who was brutally attacked last week, regained consciousness on Thursday and may be removed from an artificial breathing apparatus, a hospital source said.

Kashin, who works for the respected Kommersant daily, was severely beaten by unidentified assailants near his house in Moscow early on Saturday. He suffered severe head and leg injuries and was put into an induced coma.

"He regained consciousness and he can adequately respond to questions, but still cannot speak because he is still breathing through a machine," the source said.

Anatoly Adamchuk, a journalist from a regional paper Zhukovkiye Vesti, who was writing about the protection of forests near Moscow, was attacked two days after the attack on Kashin, the Ekho Moskvy radio station said.

The regional paper said it will launch its own investigations into the attack on its correspondent as local police say the attack was staged by Adamchuk himself to attract attention.

During a meeting with the staff of Rossiiskaya Gazeta, President Dmitry Medvedev said that the criminals who attacked Kashin would be found and punished.

Russian Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin ordered a new probe into a 2008 attack on a Russian journalist, Mikhail Beketov, a committee spokesman said on Thursday.

In November 2008, Beketov, the editor-in-chief of the controversial Khimkinskaya Pravda newspaper, was severely beaten by unidentified attackers. He is now severely brain damaged and confined to a wheelchair.

The case was frozen in mid-September because investigators were unable to identify and charge any suspects.

In late September, Bastrykin ordered a review of all cases concerning attacks on journalists.

All criminal cases launched before the Investigative Committee was established in Russia in September 2007, as well as those suspended or closed, will also be reviewed.

Bastrykin said that police had identified, but not yet detained, the suspected murderer of rights activist and journalist Natalya Estemirova, who was abducted in the Chechen capital Grozny and killed on July 15, 2009.

Russia has one of the poorest journalist safety records in the world. With at least 35 journalists murdered between 2000 and 2009, the International Press Institute places Russia fifth in its ranking of countries most dangerous for journalists, after Iraq, the Philippines, Colombia and Mexico.

The State Duma committee on media was expected to introduce to the Russian parliament a new bill proposing harsher punishments for people who attack journalists.

Under the amendments, those who commit serious attacks against journalists would receive from 20 years to a life sentence, while those who commit less serious attacks would receive 12-20 years in jail.

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