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Media Watchdog Urges Release Of Jailed Russian Editor


Igor Rudnikov

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has urged Russia to release the editor of a newspaper in the Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad and investigate allegations that he was beaten while being detained on suspicion of extortion.

A Kaliningrad court on November 3 ordered Igor Rudnikov, editor in chief of Novyye Kolyosa (New Wheels), to remain in custody on suspicion of extorting $50,000 from a senior regional law-enforcement official in exchange for halting publication of potentially damaging articles about the official.

Rudnikov's colleagues, who dismissed the allegations as baseless, said the editor was severely beaten during his detention on November 1.

"We call on Russian authorities to immediately release Igor Rudnikov and drop all charges against him," Nina Ognianova, the Europe and Central Asia Program coordinator for the New York-based Committee To Protect Journalists, said in a November 3 statement.

She added that Russian federal authorities "must promptly investigate Rudnikov's beating in custody and bring those responsible to justice."

Harlem Desir, the media-freedom representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said on Twitter that he was "concerned" by the detention and "reports of violence" against Rudnikov.

Russian state news agencies reported from the Kaliningrad courtroom on November 3 that the target of the alleged extortion was Viktor Ledenyov, a senior Kaliningrad investigative official.

Some of Rudnikov's colleagues contend his arrest was retaliation for material published by the newspaper, including reports suggesting Ledenyov owns luxury real estate.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Russian Service, RIA Novosti, TASS, Dozhd, Novaya Gazeta, and RBK
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