April 21, 2017
Another prominent Russian journalist dies after brutal attack
by Kait Howard
A Russian journalist who had long been critical Vladimir Putin’s government died on Wednesday of injuries he sustained from a severe beating by unknown attackers six weeks ago.
CNN’s Laura Smith-Spark reports that the seventy-three-year-old founder of the privately-owned St. Petersburg newspaper Noviy Peterburg (New Petersburg), Nikolai Andrushchenko, had been in a coma since he was found unconscious in the street after being brutally beaten on March 9. According to the paper’s editor, Denis Usov, the attack followed an earlier incident in which Andrushchenko had been jumped near his house by anonymous persons who “demanded some documents related to his professional work as a journalist, connected with his recent publications.” In a separate interview, Usov told Radio Free Europe that he believed the last attack was linked to Andrushchenko’s reporting on “connections between St. Petersburg city officials and organized crime syndicates.”
Andrushchenko had a long history of reporting on human rights issues and corruption in Russia, and, according to RFE, had been critical of Putin “since he came to power in 2000.” In 2007, he was imprisoned on defamation and obstruction of justice charges stemming from his coverage of a murder trial two years earlier. At the time, St. Petersburg police raided the offices of Noviy Peterburg and seized files unrelated to the pending charges, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Andrushchenko “later claimed that he was tortured in custody.”
In a 2015 interview with Current Time TV, Andrushchenko was blunt about what he saw as Putin’s motivations, saying “his understanding of politics is all about making money, in my view.” One St. Petersburg lawmaker, Boris Vishnevsky, told Smith-Spark that Andrushchenko was “not one of Putin’s more prominent or current critics,” but given that Andrushchenko’s colleagues reportedly believe the beating that killed him was retribution for his coverage of local officials, the point is needlessly evasive.
Kait Howard is a publicist at Melville House.