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Volga Journalist Joins Long List Of Targets

  • Julie Corwin

http://gdb.rferl.org/F147B3D0-E55D-4619-8C32-4B6929F821D7_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/F147B3D0-E55D-4619-8C32-4B6929F821D7_mw800_mh600.jpg On the evening of 7 January, three men attacked RFE/RL correspondent Yelena Rogacheva in the capital of the Marii El Republic, Ioshkar-Ola, as she was walking along a street. They struck her several times, including in the face, but did not ask for money or take her purse. Rogacheva told RFE/RL's Moscow bureau that her assailants warned her that if she told anyone about the incident, they would kill her.

She told RFE/RL's Moscow bureau on 10 January that she thinks the attack is linked with either her own or her husband's professional activities. Her husband is the editor of the local opposition newspaper, "Dobrye sosedi." According to Rogacheva, there have been several attacks on journalists in the Marii El Republic over the past three or four years. For example, the deputy editor of "Dobyre sosedi," Aleksandr Babaikin, was killed in November 2001, and his killers have not been found. In 2002, "Dobyre sosedi"'s then editor in chief, Vladimir Maltsev, was beaten. And in July of 2004, journalist Vitalii Igitov was also beaten up and he told colleagues that he feared for his own life as well as that of his family, according to the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations. Igitov had just written about the public relations campaign in the republic on the eve of the 19 December 2004 republican presidential elections.

In an RFE/RL broadcast on 23 December, Rogacheva quoted local activists who reported that a number of violations of the election law took place during that ballot in which the incumbent, President Leonid Markelov, was elected to a second term. Markelov's style of rule has been characterized as "authoritarian." More than a dozen newspapers that express a point of view different from the local government, have to be published outside of the republic, according to iamik.ru on 11 January.
More than a dozen newspapers that express a point of view different from the local government, have to be published outside of the republic.


In addition to working for RFE/RL, Rogacheva has also written for "Argumenty i Fakty v Marii El" and "Moskovskii komsomolets v Marii El." In 2003, she was sued for an article that appeared in the latter publication, which was based on official information from the republican Prosecutor's Office, according to the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations. She discovered a pattern that showed that the introduction of bankruptcy procedure at enterprises with huge unpaid debts in most cases does not lead to an improvement in the enterprises' financial situation. And if only the criterion of nonpayment of debts was applied, then practically every enterprise in the republic could be called bankrupt. Rogacheva won the "Golden Pen" award in 1998, when she headed the news service for Radio-M, and in 2003 she was named as one of the best journalists in the republic by the regional branch of the Media Union.

Rogacheva told Interfax that while she can walk unaided in her apartment, she avoids looking in the mirror because of the bruises on her face.
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