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Russian Authorities Arrest Man Linked To Brutal 2010 Attack On Prominent Reporter

Vyacheslav Borisov

Russian authorities said they have arrested a man accused of involvement in the brutal beating nine years ago of prominent Russian journalist Oleg Kashin.

The St. Petersburg city court press service said on May 7 that Vyacheslav Borisov, a 34-year-old former security guard at a military-related factory, had been arrested not for the 2010 attack on Kashin but for the kidnapping of another man alleged to have participated in the beating.

The arrest is the latest twist in a winding mystery that highlights the dangers faced by many Russian journalists.

Kashin, then a special correspondent for the Moscow newspaper Kommersant, was brutally beaten with metal rods by two men outside his home in November 2010.

The attack drew attention from then-President Dmitry Medvedev, who at the time announced that “the criminals should be found and punished.”

One of the alleged assailants later said that a former regional governor, Andrei Turchak, ordered him to attack Kashin in retaliation for his critical writings.

Turchak, who is now the deputy chief of Russia’s upper house of parliament, repeatedly denied allegations that he was involved in the beating. But he and Kashin had feuded publicly, and Turchak had demanded Kashin apologize for an insulting remark.

Oleg Kashin at a Moscow hospital in December 2010 after he was beaten
Oleg Kashin at a Moscow hospital in December 2010 after he was beaten

In 2015, three men working at the St. Petersburg factory were accused of being the attackers: Borisov, Danila Veselov, and Mikhail Kavtaskin.

In a videotaped interrogation, Veselov said Turchak ordered the attack. And according to other documents filed in Veselov’s case, a longtime associate of Turchak named Aleksandr Gorbunov was identified as another organizer.

Gorbunov later claimed he had been kidnapped, injected with an unknown substance by his captors, water-boarded, and then forced to admit responsibility for Kashin’s beating.

Kashin, who suffered a broken leg and jaw, a severed finger, and extensive bruising, has said he believes Turchak, a top official in the ruling United Russia party, enjoys protection in the matter under President Vladimir Putin's government.

Asked about the arrest of Borisov, Kashin told RFE/RL he heard about it only from news reports.

“I don’t consider it particularly good news,” he said, adding he didn’t believe that investigators will pursue Turchak’s alleged involvement in the beating.

Prior to his attack, Kashin had published biting coverage of pro-Kremlin youth groups and commentaries on issues such as an army conscript who had his legs and genitals amputated after brutal hazing by fellow soldiers.

With reporting by RFE/RL correspondent Carl Schreck in Prague