Moscow journalist Sergei Aslanyan was stabbed repeatedly earlier this week. Anslanyan, who specialises in motoring and hosts a programme on state Mayak radio station, was attacked on 29 May after a stranger called him and asked to leave his apartment “for a talk”. Aslanyan was attacked as he left the house. He managed to call an ambulance himself, and is now in a stable condition in hospital, where he is under police guard.
Some of Aslanyan’s colleagues believe the attack was caused by comments about the prophet Muhammad he made on a radio station. Sergei Arkhipov, head or radio at VGTRK state holding, which owns Mayak radio, said Aslanyan heard his attacker say “You dislike Allah”.
The Muslim society of Tatarstan had expressed concerns about Aslanyan’s anti-Muslim comments in an appeal to Russia’s general prosecutor’s office. After the journalist was attacked, they condemned both the assault and premature conclusions about “Muslim trace” in the case. Their leader Rishat Khamidullin told journalists that Aslanyan was treated brutally and “such an attack after his insulting statements is no more than a provocation against the Muslims”.
Attacks on journalists are common in Russia. In April Novaya Gazeta reporter Elena Milashina was beaten near her house. In May three journalists of Novaya Gazeta branch in Ryazan were beaten. Another newspaper’s reporter, Diana Khachatryan, alleged she was threatened by pro-Kremlin youth movements after publishing an article about the United Russia congress.
The latest most scandalous attacks on journalists include the beatings of Kommersant’s Oleg Kashin, and Khimki Truth’s Mikhail Beketov, and the murders of Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya and Natalya Estemirova, who wrote columns for the same paper while working for Memorial human rights centre. In the vast majority of these cases, no one has been brough to justice.
Freedom House placed Russia at 172 out of 197 countries for press freedom this year.