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Two journalists assaulted by company guards while filming a fire at mining site

(CJES/IFEX) - Alexander Kucheruk and Sergei Berdnikov, journalists with the state-run television and radio company Murman, were beaten by security guards of Norilsk Nickel, Russia's largest mining company, in Murmansk on 8 June 2007, the "Vecherny Murmansk" newspaper reported on 15 June.

The attack occurred as the journalists were filming a fire at one of the mining sites.

"We started working as soon as we reached the site," said cameraperson Kucheruk. "However, a couple of minutes later, some people in private security uniform, who did not introduce themselves and did not show us any documents, began pushing us behind the fence. I was hit really hard in the crotch and fell down to the ground. I remember somebody's boot in front of my face. The only thing I was thinking at that moment was that they could break my camera. I held it close to me, like a baby."

"When I saw the cameraman lying on the ground I got really angry," said Berdnikov. "We were just dong our job! I understood that Kucheruk was about to be hit in the face with a boot. I pushed the security guard and was immediately hit on the back with a baton."

Commenting on the incident, Alexei Tyukavin, director of the Norilsk Nickel Murmansk transport branch, said: "We are happy with our security guards. I believe our security guards were absolutely right and their actions were perfectly legal. In my opinion, they were extremely polite and correct. What did those journalists want? They wanted to film a fire, get sensational material. The security guards had to act appropriately."

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