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Russia may impose harsher punishments for attacks on journalists

Russian Prison

MOSCOW, November 9 (RIA Novosti)-A bill will be introduced to the Russian parliament on Tuesday proposing the introduction of 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.

"In recent years, attacks on journalists have become more and more frequent, although their work is socially important," said Boris Reznik, deputy chairman of the State Duma committee on media policy, who is proposing the amendments.

Journalist Oleg Kashin from 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 is currently in an induced coma. Reports also say his fingers were broken and may have been amputated.

The head of the Russian Communications Ministry Igor Shchegolev said he considered the attack a personal insult.

"I feel deeply offended by the blatant disregard for individual rights, our civil liberties and the norms of human morality," Shchegolev said.

A police source said on Tuesday it was likely that the attack on Kashin was coordinated by a third party.

"Currently, police are investigating whether the criminals that attacked Kashin had an accomplice who might have coordinated the actions of the attackers, and who was also waiting for them in the car they escaped in," the source said.

Kommersant Editor Mikhail Mikhailin said the attack was probably linked to the journalist's recent investigations into extremist youth groups.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has been one of the most dangerous countries for reporters.

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

Both Beketov and Kashin had written extensively about a grassroots campaign to stop the construction of a road through the ancient Khimki oak forest near Moscow.

A journalist from a regional paper, who was had also been writing about the protection of forests near Moscow, was attacked on Monday, the Ekho Moskvy radio station said.

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

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Russia, Government, Politics - Assassinations, Beatings - Russia, Media - Russia, Human Rights - Russia News - Russia - Johnson's Russia List

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