News Brief

Russian Independent Newsrooms on High Alert After Stabbing of Moscow Journalist

Independent media outlets in Russia are on high alert after the stabbing of journalist Tanya Felgenhauer in a Moscow newsroom last week, with one editor-in-chief planning to arm reporters and another editor encouraging one of his reporters to flee Russia altogether.

A man broke into Echo Moskvy on October 23 and stabbed Felgenhauer, deputy editor at the radio station, in the neck. She has since recovered from the attack but her injuries were serious enough that last week doctors put her in a temporary coma for treatment.

Journalists and opposition leaders in Russia linked the stabbing to disparaging comments made on Russian state television about Felgenhauer and several other journalists at the radio station which is known for its critical reporting of the government.

Three days after the attack, Echo Moskvy’s editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov told reporter Ksenia Larina to leave Russia for at least six months following another broadcast on state-television where the station’s reporters were the subject. On a talk show hosted by Vladimir Solovyov several guests accused Larina and her colleagues of “nervous hysteria.” The program that evening was called “Liberals, Why do you Lie?” and was in response to Larina’s claim on Facebook that Solovyov had welcomed the attack on her colleague.

“The next blow from a knife to someone’s throat could come after Solovyov’s show, and he would be the instigator,” Venediktov said according to Meduza. “There is no other way for me to protect my journalists.”

Last year, another journalist at the radio station Yulia Latynina fled Russia after an attempted arson attack on her car.

Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief at the independent Novaya Gazeta, plans to “arm his staff.” Echo Mosvky and Novaya Gazeta are one of the few independent voices in a media environment dominated by state-owned and state-controlled news outlets.

“Neither authorities nor law enforcement will stand up for them [journalists],” Muratov said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that linking the news report about Felgenhauer and the stabbing “is absolutely illogical and wrong,” calling the attack the actions of a “madman.”