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No understanding of press freedom, says IPI

On a five-day advocacy mission to Russia last week, the International Press Institute (IPI) investigated the murder of journalists, impunity of killers and self-censorship of the press that continues.

In Moscow, the group talked to a local activist about Mikhail Beketov, the Khimki-based editor-in-chief, who was beaten almost to death outside his home in November 2008. The activist told the IPI mission that authorities are not interested in finding his assailants. Beketov is still in the hospital. Colleagues say the attack was connected to Beketov's reporting on corruption at the local government level.

The delegation also spoke to the editor of the independent "Novaya Gazeta" in Moscow. Four journalists and two associates of the newspaper were either murdered or died under suspicious events, including renowned journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot dead outside her apartment on 7 October 2006. "Following a very nervous discussion with my journalists, I had to limit reporting on the Caucasus region," editor Dmitry Muratov told delegates."I cannot guarantee the safety of my journalists" His paper planned to hold a memorial service today, on the third anniversary of Politkovskaya's death.

IPI then met with representatives of local media organisations. The head of the Glasnost Defence Foundation (GDF), Alexei Simonov, said, "Things are not improving," but recognising the need to end impunity in journalists' murders is a "big step forward." Oleg Panfilov from the Centre for Journalism in Extreme Circumstances (CJES) said that there is "no understanding of freedom of the press."

IPI delegate Adam Michnik said that the fear of physical attack ensures self-censorship continues and it means journalists cannot do their jobs. The IPI delegation went on to Tomsk for two days to meet with local media and government officials.

For more information, please see:

IPI's Russian advocacy mission

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