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Journalist detained for questioning after publishing open letter to Putin

(GDF/IFEX) - Journalist Mikhail Lobanov, who was the target of a violent attack last year, was detained in Perm on 1 February 2012 by police officers Roman Ovchinnikov and Dmitry Kirsanov on orders from Svetlana Konstantinova, senior investigator at the Regional Investigative Committee. Konstantinova ordered Lobanov to be brought for questioning as the victim of beating that has left him with crippling injuries.

"I believe the police officers' actions are aimed at putting physical and psychological pressure on me in the wake of an open letter to presidential candidate Vladimir Putin that I published in the Perm-based newspaper 'Novy Kompanyon' on 17 January 2012 under the heading 'NO to Dirty Practices and Lies'," Lobanov reported, adding that he had never avoided an investigation into his attack. On the contrary, following his beating, on 24 June 2010, he insisted on having the attack fully investigated. After four months of futile attempts to get criminal proceedings started, he complained to the police, the prosecutor's office and judicial authorities asking for a probe into the assault. And when he wrote a letter to Putin describing the law enforcers' unlawful negligence and explaining his reasons for delegating his case to the Regional Investigative Committee for further handling, his treatment by law enforcement officers grew worse.

The warrant to have him brought to police by force did not refer to any unlawful behaviour on Lobanov's part. It did not even refer to him by name but described only an individual who "fails to come to the investigator for questioning without a good excuse". The journalist is certain he is being pressured to protect one of his attackers - Sergei Pogor, son of Ivan Pogor, Inspector at Large at the Regional Interior Department - from criminal liability.

"My written appeals to the regional prosecutor's office, dated 19 and 25 January and 2 February, have once again gone unanswered," Lobanov said. "The case files have not even been requested from the prosecutor's office to confirm the incident. This gives the police a free hand to continue concealing a grave crime - attempted homicide - against me."

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