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Libel Trial Postponed After Journalist No-Show


Journalist Mikhail Beketov, whose devastating injuries came after his public criticism of Mayor Vladimir Strelchenko.
The defamation trial of a Russian journalist whose savage beating left him permanently crippled has been postponed after he failed to appear in court, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Mikhail Beketov is being sued by Vladimir Strelchenko, mayor of the small town of Khimki outside of Moscow, for libel over articles published in "Khimkinskaya pravda," where Beketov served as chief editor.

Beketov, 52, was left severely handicapped after a beating at the hands of unknown assailants in November 2008. Beketov was discovered lying in a coma more than a day after the attackers "broke his skull, smashed the fingers of both hands, broke his legs, and left him for dead in the freezing cold," the Committee to Protect Journalists noted.

His condition means he must travel to court by ambulance, accompanied by doctors, at a cost of 6,000 rubles ($196) per trip according to Ekho Moskvy.

Supporters have launched a collection drive to help him cover medical and defense costs.

The attack took place outside of Beketov's home after he wrote several articles challenging Khimki authorities not to cut down a large swath of forest to build a new Moscow-St. Petersburg highway. Many of Beketov's articles were critical of Strelchenko.

Last month, police closed their investigation into the attack against Beketov without making any arrests.