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Russian investigative journalist Oleg Kashin underwent several surgeries after he was badly beaten up in 2010. (file photo)

Russian journalist Oleg Kashin has released the names of three men who have been charged with severely beating him in a 2010 attack in which he nearly died, and he expressed fears for his safety in connection with the influential figures he believes ordered the attack.

Kashin, 35, wrote on his website on September 7 that the three -- Danila Vesyolov, Vyacheslav Borisov, and Mikhail Kavtaskin -- were security guards at a St. Petersburg factory.

He told RFE/RL on September 7 that he neither knew the men personally nor had any problems with them.

Kashin alleged that the men's boss, Aleksandr Gorbunov, director of the holding company that owns the factory, hired the security guards to attack him.

Gorbunov is currently under arrest for charges in a separate case related to illegal possession of firearms, so was unavailable for comment.

Kashin told RFE/RL that he decided to reveal the three suspects' names out of fear for his safety in the event that Gorbunov is released from custody.

"Because very soon a court in St. Petersburg is set to decide the pretrial status of Aleksandr Gorbunov, whom the attackers have called the organizer of the crime, I was afraid that he might be released," Kashin said. "There are many reasons to believe that he might be released. I know that even state prosecutors have requested his transfer under house arrest. That is why I made this information public."

The factory where Gorbunov and the three security guards worked is part of a holding company owned by Pskov region Governor Andrei Turchak, a longtime ally of President Vladimir Putin.

Kashin has said that the attack followed a public dispute with Turchak on his LiveJournal blog after a demand from Turchak that Kashin apologize for a critical remark.

Talking to RFE/RL, Kashin expressed fear about speaking out, saying that "any word uttered by me accidentally can come back to hurt me."

Kashin also alleged that Turchak visited the deputy chief of the Russian presidential administration, Vladislav Surkov, after the attack in an effort to persuade Surkov that he had nothing to do with the attack.

Kashin did not say how or from whom he obtained that information.

Kashin also said that he is ready to withdraw his lawsuit accusing Russian law enforcement of reluctance to investigate his case, which was filed with the European Court of Human Rights.

Kashin, a prolific blogger and freelance writer, has been a supporter of the anti-Putin opposition.

He was a special correspondent for Kommersant when he was attacked outside his Moscow home late at night in November 2010.

The attack left the reporter with two broken legs, mangled fingers, a damaged skull, and multiple jaw fractures.

Kashin underwent several surgeries after the attack and was kept in a coma during part of his time in hospital.

Then-President Dmitry Medvedev publicly condemned the attack and announced he would personally oversee the investigation.

A top official of Russia's only nonstate election-monitoring organization says the group is considering liquidating after being declared a "foreign agent."

The Russian Justice Ministry announced on September 4 it was adding the Golos organization to its list of foreign agents. A controversial Russian law says any nongovernmental organization involved in politics that receives foreign funding must register as a foreign agent.

The term carries a pejorative Cold War-era connotation and critics say the law is aimed at discrediting such groups.

The law is among several measures President Vladimir Putin's government has taken to clamp down on groups seen as opposed to the government.

In response to the move, Golos co-Chairman Grigory Melkonyants was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying: "It's possible we will liquidate.... Evidently, we'll now have to do that."

Based on reporting by Reuters and Interfax

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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