Russia: Mikhail Beketov cleared of slander

A Russian court has overturned a slander verdict against investigative reporter Mikhail Beketov. On Friday (Dec 10) a Khimki court reversed last month’s conviction, Beketov was originally fined 5,000 roubles after he accused the local mayor of setting fire to his car. The incident left the journalist brain-damaged, unable to speak and crippled. The attacks on Beketov are alleged to be related to his investigation into construction of a motorway through the Khimki forest, which he linked to powerful political and business interests.

Russia: Disabled journalist convicted of libel

A Russian editor who was nearly killed in the attack two years ago, has been convicted of slander.

Mikhail Beketov, who is confined to a wheelchair and can barely speak, has been found guilty of insulting the local mayor by the court in Khimki. He has been instructed to compensate damages by paying 500 roubles (100 British pounds).

Beketov had been covering the plans to build the road through Khimki’s protected forest. Although the motorway works have been stopped, another journalist and an ecologist have been assaulted this month.

Oleg Kashin, a correspondent of Russia’s well-known paper Kommersant, has been badly beaten with an iron bar on Saturday. Two days earlier, Khimki opposition activist Konstantin Fetisov had his skull broken after being released from police, where he was questioned about the protest.

Mikhail Mikhailin, editor-in-chief of Kommersant said he is sure the attacks are connected to the articles written about the motorway. It has also been said that they carry the same signature.

Before Beketov endured brain damage and lost his right leg and four fingers in the attack in November 2008, his car was set on fire and his dog was killed. Nobody has been brought to court.