MOSCOW—A reporter for a major Russian newspaper was left a coma Saturday after two men smashed his head, legs and fingers in an attack that prosecutors believe may be linked to his work.
Prosecutors said two unidentified attackers were waiting for Oleg Kashin, 30, when he returned to his apartment in central Moscow just after midnight.
Colleagues said Kashin was beaten so badly that he suffered a concussion and multiple broken bones—to his upper and lower jaw and both lower legs. After an operation, doctors put him into an artificial coma.
His editor at the Kommersant newspaper, Mikhail Mikhailin, said the fact that the attackers did not rob Kashin and made a point of mangling his fingers makes it appear to be retaliation for his reporting.
Speaking on NTV television, Mikhailin said Kashin was investigating “informal organizations” but gave no specifics.
Kashin has written on a wide range of social and political issues, some politically sensitive, others not. His reporting appeared to be straightforward and balanced.
Many journalists have been attacked or killed in Russia in recent years, with few perpetrators ever found. Since 2000, at least 18 killings have gone unsolved, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
But the Kremlin seemed to determine to show that this attack would be treated differently. President Dmitry Medvedev ordered Russia’s prosecutor general and interior minister to oversee the investigation to identify and apprehend Kashin’s attackers.
All of Russia’s national television networks, which are under direct or indirect Kremlin control, led their news programs with the attack.
NTV interviewed a neighbor, a middle-aged woman identified only as Olga, who heard the attack and went outside as the ambulance arrived.
“He was covered in blood, his face was completely covered in blood, his legs,” she said. “He showed his hand to the doctor so he could see it was all broken.”