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Russian cameraman Leonid Krivenkov

MOSCOW -- A former cameraman for a Russian state TV broadcaster who has spoken out and given interviews about political censorship and corruption at his former employer has been severely beaten by two men in Moscow, he told RFE/RL in an interview on January 15.

Leonid Krivenkov, 61, who shot political shows on Channel One for 10 years, said the beating took place as he was leaving Kuzminsky Park in the capital on January 11.

The two assailants "were athletically built, tall, and aged approximately 25-30 years, with a dog in tow," he said.

He said they attacked him from behind, threw him to the ground, and started kicking him.

He said the assailants yelled: "You despicable jerk! We’ll teach you to love your homeland…the fifth column. We will annihilate you!"

Krivenkov said the two men ran away when they noticed passersby approaching the scene.

The following day, the retired cameraman sought medical treatment at an emergency room of a clinic where an X-ray was taken, revealing severe bruising of the chest and a broken nose.

He said he was promised at the clinic that they would contact the police and provide them with information about the attack and told him to expect a visit from police that evening.

The police never arrived, so Krivenkov said he filed a police report himself on January 13.

For the last two days, he said, "I’ve felt extremely weak, have been running a fever, and my head spins. It looks like in addition [to the other injuries] I also have a concussion."

In a January 2019 interview with RFE/RL, Krivenkov spoke of election fraud and censorship at Channel One. He also gave several interviews to foreign media based in Moscow.

He noted the attack happened less than two weeks after RFE/RL’s Russian Service published a list of the most popular articles in 2019 that included the interview with Krivenkov.

"Apparently, many people are annoyed that I am telling the truth about the work methods of the Russian media, and someone gave the go-ahead, [saying,] 'It's time to deal with Krivenkov,'" he said.

He said the beating was something of a badge of honor.

"If measures of physical action have already begun to be applied to me, it means that I have become noticeable with my position. That means I am really doing something to free my country from the current regime,” Krivenkov said.

He added: "The country is ruled by a bunch of gangsters from the backstreets."

Iranian President Hassan Rohani made his remarks during a cabinet meeting on January 15.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani has criticized the disqualification of hundreds of people from running in the upcoming parliamentary elections, saying Iranians "need diversity."

In televised remarks during a cabinet meeting on January 15, Rohani called for "all parties and groups" to be allowed to run for office, saying the country "cannot be governed by one political wing alone."

The powerful Guardians Council has barred nearly one third of the current members of the 290-seat parliament from running in the elections scheduled for February 21, while some 800 other would-be candidates were disqualified by the Interior Ministry, according to state media.

Most of those rejected were reformist and moderate candidates, according to the reformist daily Etemad.

Overall, more than 5,000 people were allowed to take part in the vote, meaning that around 17 candidates will compete for each parliamentary seat, Press TV reported.

"Do not tell the people that for every seat in parliament, there are 17, 170 or 1,700 candidates running in the election," Rohani said in his speech.

"Seventeen-hundred candidates from how many factions? Seventeen candidates from how many parties? From one party? This is not an election," he added.

With reporting by AP and AFP

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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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