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Environmental journalist assaulted and seriously injured

(CJES/IFEX) - Mikhail Beketov, an environmental journalist and editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Khimkimskaya Pravda", has been assaulted. The journalist sustained multiple fractures and a serious head injury. He is currently hospitalised in critical condition.

"The doctors are doing everything to save his life. Beketov suffered serious injuries, including a head injury. He is unconscious," a hospital official told RIA Novosti.

Beketov is known for his criticism of the administration of the town of Khimki, in the Moscow region. He attracted public attention with his publications dealing with the desecration of pilots' graves near Leningradkoye Shossee in April 2007 and was heavily involved in the campaign for the Khimki forest. In May 2007, his car was blown up, and in February 2008, a criminal case was opened against him on the basis of Article 129 of the Russian Criminal Code (which deals with slander), nazbol.ru reports. In early November, Beketov issued an edition of his paper which criticised the Khimki administration and covered the situation involving the Khimki forest, which the local authorities are planning to cut down. Beketov has said many times that he was receiving threats, Novy Region has reported.

A criminal case has been opened on the basis of the attack against the journalist as per Article 111 of the Criminal Code, which deals with the infliction of severe bodily injury. "All the necessary investigative actions are being taken to solve this crime. Specifically, the investigators have questioned the witnesses to the crime and are working on creating a composite facial image of the attacker," a law enforcement official told RIA Novosti.

Several major environmental organisations intend to issue an address to the Russian government regarding the attack on Beketov. In that address, the environmentalists are planning to ask the Russian government to take control of the case.

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