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Journalist In Russian Far East Says He Was Abducted, Threatened by Masked Men

KHABAROVSK, Russia -- A journalist who covered ongoing protests in Russia's Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk has reportedly been kidnapped and threatened by unknown masked individuals.

A coordinator of the Open Russia opposition organization, Sergei Naumov, told RFE/RL on October 16 that journalist Sergei Plotnikov, was abducted overnight.

Plotnikov, a reporter for the RusNews YouTube channel, called his colleagues in the morning and told them that he was in a forest near a cemetery and asked for help.

Naumov said that Plotnikov told him he was abducted near his house by several masked men, who handcuffed him and brought him to the forest outside the city, where they threatened him by shooting live rounds of ammunition into the ground near his feet and demanding he "cooperate."

Naumov says Plotnikov, who sustained a wound on his temple, has filed a complaint with local police.

Plotnikov's colleagues told RFE/RL that the men who kidnapped and threatened the journalist must have been "professionals" who removed their fingerprints from items of his that they came into contact with.

The Khabarovsk regional police press service refused to comment on the situation.

Khabarovsk and several other towns and cities of the area that borders China have seen regular protests since the region's former governor, Sergei Furgal, was arrested in July on decades-old murder-related charges and taken to Moscow.

Furgal has denied the charges, which his supporters say were engineered by his opponents with help from the Kremlin.

The protesters have demanded Furgal's release and in recent weeks, after their demands were not met, they began demanding the resignation of President Vladimir Putin.

On October 10, local authorities used force to violently disperse the protests for the first time since the rallies started in July.