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Journalist living "under siege" in Volgodonsk

(GDF/IFEX) - On 12 November 2010, the "Nashe Vremya" newspaper, based in Volgodonsk, Rostov region, published an editorial saying that its staff correspondent Natalia Shelimova and her family are living under siege. Once every two or three weeks unknown individuals fire shots at her apartment, or smear the door with paint or plaster the keyhole with glue or cement, each time leaving insulting and threatening leaflets in and around her house.

The harassment campaign against Shelimova began soon after she published a post-election story saying that members of a local crime ring, the Olymp, are making their way into the ruling elite. The authorities took pains to prevent the issue of the newspaper from reaching readers. They detained street vendors, took them to the police station to confiscate their newspapers and followed postmen around neighbourhoods to withdraw the newspapers from subscribers' mailboxes.

Complaints to law enforcement personnel did not help. Nor are they helping now, when the "Nashe Vremya" reporter finds herself being pressured to the degree she is. Her repeated appeals to the city police chief, Col. Yuri Sereda, have gone unanswered.

Alarmed by this criminal outrage, editor Vera Yuzhanskaya filed an official inquiry into the measures taken by the police in the case. A month after filing the inquiry, she received Col. Sereda's reply saying no measures had been taken whatsoever since the police found no evidence of a crime in the unknown individuals' actions that Shelimova had complained about.

Evidently, the police chief considers the shots fired at the windows of Shelimova's apartment, the paint-smeared door, the license plates torn off her car, etc., to be "the norm", says GDF. The editor has been compelled to request that the higher level regional police department take a closer look at what is going on in Volgodonsk. The GDF will attentively follow developments in the case.

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