Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for a full and impartial investigation into last weekend’s violent attack on Vadim Kharchenko, a well-known blogger in the city of Krasnodar in southwestern Russia, and voices concern about the climate of impunity in the region.
Kharchenko was lured to a quiet Krasnodar neighbourhood late on the night of 1 June by the promise of a meeting with a policeman offering compromising information on illegal practices by other police officers.
Finding no one at the designated meeting place, Kharchenko was about to leave when he was attacked by two individuals who hit him over the head, stabbed him twice and used what Russians call a “trauma gun” to inflict three other injuries on him. “Get out of here, Vadim,” they said before leaving.
Kharchenko managed to get to a hospital for treatment to his injuries and he finally reported online yesterday that he had been the target of an attack. Three of the fingers of his right hand are still paralyzed.
“This attack on Vadim Kharchenko is all the more worrying because intimidation of outspoken journalists is now common in the Krasnodar region,” said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “It is high time to end the prevailing impunity, which is fuelling a poisonous climate. Everything possible must be done to identify this attack’s perpetrators and anyone who was behind it.”
A critic of the authorities, Kharchenko uses his YouTube channel “Lichnoe Mnenie” (Personal Opinion) to cover local political and judicial scandals, police activities and other regional problems. He was previously attacked in 2017 and his car was set on fire in 2018.
Despite the many UN resolutions calling on countries to conduct “impartial, speedy, thorough, independent and effective investigations” into acts of violence against journalists, impunity continues to be recurrent problem in Russia, which is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.