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Russian Journalist Dies after St. Petersburg Attack

Nikolai Andrushchenko, once a city councilor, became a thorn in the side of local politicians.

20 April 2017

Colleagues of the St. Petersburg journalist who died yesterday as a result of a severe beating say his critical reporting on local politics may have led to his death.

 

Nikolai Andrushchenko, 73, had been in a medically induced coma since being attacked by unknown assailants near his home on 9 March. A co-founder and writer for the weekly Novy Peterburg newspaper, he had numerous run-ins with the local justice system over his reports on local crime and corruption and his coverage of anti-government protests in Russia’s second largest city.

 

Novy Peterburg recently ran a series of articles linking city officials to organized crime, The Moscow Times writes.

 

The newspaper’s chief editor Denis Usov told the daily RBC that Andrushchenko’s attackers demanded some documents from him shortly before he was found on the street with head injuries, according to Crimerussia.com.

 

Usov said the attack was motivated by the paper’s coverage of protests, “the authorities’ demonstrative struggle against corruption,” as well as its publication of the memoirs of Dmitry Zapolsky, a journalist who investigated local politicians’ criminal activities in the 1990s.

 

Nikolay Andruschenko. Image via The Current Time/Youtube.

 

City police are investigating the attack, although they “are unlikely to put much effort into the investigation, since Andrushchenko wrote a lot about arbitrariness in the police, and he was not liked for his intransigence," Novy Peterburg director Alevtina Ageyeva told RBC.

 

The journalist had been attacked at least once before, at the time of the 2007 “Dissenters Marches” against the growing authoritarianism of President Vladimir Putin’s government.

 

Novy Peterburg faced numerous problems trying to publish ahead of a protest march in November 2007. As the Committee to Protect Journalists wrote at the time, an anonymous buyer purchased an entire print run containing coverage of the upcoming march, and the newspaper’s distributor refused to allow remaining copies to appear on newsstands. A week later a publishing house refused to print the paper, and another refused to print an edition containing an article by opposition leader Garry Kasparov.

 

 

  • Also in 2007, Andrushchenko was charged with libel, publicly calling for extremist activity, and insulting an official, Crimerussia.com says. After issuing two warnings to Novy Peterburg, the St. Petersburg City Court ordered it shuttered, but the ban was later overturned by Russia’s Supreme Court.

 

  • In 2009 a different court found him guilty of insulting a government official, bringing a 20,000-ruble fine, and handed him a suspended one-year sentence for inciting social discord against employees of the city prosecutor’s office.

 

 

  • Another critic of the Russian authorities died violently last month. Former Duma deputy Denis Voronenkov  was shot dead outside a hotel in Kyiv, where he and his wife relocated after he lost his seat in last fall’s parliamentary elections. Voronenkov also testified in a case against Ukraine’s ousted former president, Viktor Yanukovych.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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