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Editor attacked by police officer, knocked unconscious, calls for proper investigation

(CJES/IFEX) - Mikhail Afanasyev, editor-in-chief of the Internet magazine "Novy Focus", has filed a complaint with the Abakan City Court about the actions taken by investigators from the Interior Affairs Department, the prosecutor's office and the prosecutor of Abakan, the capital of the Republic of Khakasiya. The complaint states that the law enforcement agencies did not notify the journalist of the results of the probe into a 17 June 2007 attack, which, by law, they were required to do within 10 days.

"The attack occurred when I was in a car with my friends. When I got out of the car, I was approached by a man who said he was a police officer. When I asked him what the matter was, he suddenly hit me with something heavy and I lost consciousness. My friend, who tried to help me, was also hit on the face with a baton," Afanasyev told CJES.

The journalist says he suspects the attacks were the work of law enforcement officials as a result of his journalistic investigations.

He also said that when he reported the attack to the police immediately after recovering, the police did not react right away, visiting the crime scene only four days later. "But things have not gone any further. It seems to me that the attackers will never be found because it was a contract crime, and contract crimes are either resolved quickly or are go unresolved," said the journalist.

Afanasyev's lawyer Pavel Chirkov agrees with this assertion.

Over the past three years, 10 criminal cases have been opened against Afanasyev, who is known for publishing materials accusing the republic's public bodies of violating the law.

Chirkov told CJES that in investigating the attack, "the prosecutor's office saw evidence of assault and forwarded the materials to the police, despite the fact that the attackers were most likely police officers, and the victim had identified them as such initially. In such cases the prosecutor's office is required to conduct a probe."

"The Khakasiya authorities seem to be reluctant to investigate cases involving the journalist Mikhail Afanasyev. And it is important for us to show in the context of all situations involving Afanasyev that he is experiencing serious pressure, and so is freedom of speech," said Chirkov.

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