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Journalist killed in police custody

(IFJ/IFEX) - 22 January 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called on the Russian authorities to act immediately over the "savage" killing of journalist Konstantin Popov who was beaten to death in police custody in Tomsk, Siberia.

"This case is a shocking indictment of the lack of protection for citizens who find themselves in police custody," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "We call for an urgent investigation into this savage attack and for those responsible to face the full force of the law."

According to media reports, Popov, a journalist for the weekly newspaper Tomskaya Nedelya, died in a hospital on Wednesday 20 January. He had been in a coma for two weeks following the brutal assault by a Tomsk police officer. The journalist was arrested on 4 January allegedly for being under the influence of alcohol and taken in to sober up. The injuries he suffered in the beating stunned even doctors who treated him, reports say.

The IFJ has welcomed reports of the arrest of the officer responsible for the assault and has called for rigorous and competent investigation of the incident.

"There have been failed prosecutions of journalists' murders in Russia because of ineffective investigations," added White." We expect the authorities to set high standards in future."

The IFJ last year launched its Partial Justice report highlighting the lack of commitment on the part of the authorities to tackle violence against media workers. Russia was among the top five countries with the highest numbers of targeted killings of journalists in 2009, recording six murders.

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