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Russian Khimki forest journalist Mikhail Beketov dies

Mikhail Beketov
Image caption Mikhail Beketov's attackers were never identified

A Russian journalist who campaigned against government corruption and suffered brain damage from an attack in 2008, has died aged 55.

Mikhail Beketov, founder and editor of the Khimki newspaper, campaigned heavily against the construction of a highway through the Khimki forest near Moscow.

Mr Beketov died on Monday from cardiac arrest, said his lawyer Stalina Gurevich.

His attackers were never identified.

Mr Beketov wrote several articles criticising the planned destruction of the Khimki forest to make way for the Moscow-Saint Petersburg motorway.

He also raised suspicions that local officials were profiting from the project.

Mr Beketov continued campaigning, even after his dog was left dead on his doorstep and his car was set on fire.

Image caption Mr Beketov was found guilty of libel but then later acquitted

Soon after, on November 13th 2008, Mr Beketov was attacked outside his home by two men using an iron bar. They smashed his hands and legs, and fractured his skull.

Mr Beketov's right leg had to be amputated, he lost most of the fingers on his left hand and he was left severely brain-damaged. The attack also left him unable to speak.

Ms Gurevich said Mr Beketov never fully recovered.

"The culprits have not been found and now we can honestly say these people were murderers," said Yevgenia Chirikova, an activist who campaigned alongside Mr Beketov.

Several other journalists and environmentalists who campaigned against the project were also attacked.

In 2010, Mr Beketov was found guilty of libelling the local mayor but was subsequently acquitted.

Some 54 journalists have been killed in Russia since 1992, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The CPJ states that Russia has the ninth worst record for solving murders against journalists.

Mr Beketov, who said he had received threats to stop writing, was given a government print media award in 2011.

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