Oleg Kashin, a journalist for the Russian daily newspaper Kommersant, was beaten into a coma as he walked back to his apartment at midnight Saturday.
Kashin suffered a concussion, two broken legs, several broken bones in his jaw, and broken fingers, the New York Times reports.
According to the BBC, Kashin, has recently been investigating “anti-Kremlin protests and extremist rallies.”
On Friday, Kashin’s next-door neighbour described seeing two unidentified men lingering outside his apartment with a bouquet of flowers. Other reports from Kashin’s friends and colleagues indicate that strange men had been following Kashin for a week, watching him at home, and listening to his phone.
Russian law enforcement believes the attack was prompted by reporting because Kashin was not robbed, only beaten – and his fingers were particularly targeted in the attack. At least one finger was severed at the joint. These sinister signs point to the fact that the beating was intended as a warning.
“It is completely obvious that the people who did this did not like what he was saying and what he was writing,” Mikhail Mikhailin, Kashin’s editor, said in an interview with the Ekho Moskvy radio station.
One of the stories Kashin covered recently involved the continuing conflict in Khimki, a city situated just north of Moscow. Protesters have been attempting to circumvent the Russian government from building a highway through a forest. In some cases, certain activists have even resorted to violence. Kashin published an interview with one such anti-Kremlin activist, on the condition of anonymity.
Molodaya Gvardiya, a largely pro-Kremlin youth direct-action group, posted a column on its website after Kashin’s interview, calling Kommersant’s reporters “not only enemies of the entire Russian people and all decent and law-abiding people, but — genuine traitors.” They demanded that Kashin reveal his sources.
The article was illustrated with Kashin’s photograph, ominously stamped with the words “will be punished.”
Since the attack, however, the photo has been removed from the website, and Molodaya Gvardiya has released a statement wishing Kashin “a fast recovery.”
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