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Editor beaten for distributing pamphlet; photojournalist beaten, injured for photographing her beating

(CJES/IFEX) - On 12 January 2008, during a session of the Council of Deputies of the city of Serpukhov, in Moscow Oblast province, an editor was beaten for distributing a political pamphlet, and then a press photographer was beaten for photographing the incident.

During the session, Larissa Zhuravskaja, deputy head of the anticorruption commission and editor of the newspaper "The National Observer", distributed to participants an official leaflet that described the difficult political situation in Serpukhov. This caused a conflict, and under the instructions of Oleg Gerasimov, deputy head of the security service of Serpukhov, Zhuravskaja was stopped and beaten.

When Denis Prokofev, photographer with the newspaper "Oka info", attempted to photograph the eruption of violence, his camera was blocked by Gerasimov. According to Dmitry Staroverov, editor-in-chief of "Oka info", Gerasimov then gave an order following which "some young men threw the journalist to the ground and began beating him". As a result of the beating, Prokofev suffered a concussion, a fractured finger and other injuries.

Serpukhov city officials and law enforcement officers who were present made no attempt to stop the beatings.

On 14 January, Staroverov submitted a statement requesting that criminal proceedings be initiated against the assailants who beat Prokofev. Employees of "Oka Info" have been called to provide information on the incident to the state public prosecutor's office.

Prokofev's lawyer also plans to initiate criminal proceedings under article 144 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, on the obstruction of the lawful professional activity of the press photographer.

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