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Russian Blogger Attacked In Krasnodar Amid 'Climate Of Impunity'

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has voiced concern about the "climate of impunity" in Russia's southwestern region of Krasnodar after a local blogger was violently assaulted by unknown attackers.

The weekend attack on Vadim Kharchenko "is all the more worrying because intimidation of outspoken journalists is now common in Krasnodar region," Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, said in a statement on June 4.

"It is high time to end the prevailing impunity, which is fueling a poisonous climate," Bihr added. "Everything possible must be done to identify this attack’s perpetrators and anyone who was behind it.”

Kharchenko reported online on June 3 that he had been the target of an attack two days earlier in the regional capital, also called Krasnodar.

The blogger said he was lured to a quiet neighborhood by the promise of a meeting with a police officer offering information on illegal practices by other officers.

At the meeting place, two individuals attacked Kharchenko and hit him over the head, stabbed him twice, and used a so-called trauma gun -- a type of air pistol that is popular in Russia -- to inflict three other injuries on him.

Kharchenko was treated in hospital, but three of his fingers are still paralyzed, RSF said.

A critic of the authorities, the blogger uses his YouTube channel to cover local political and judicial scandals, police activities, and other regional issues, according to the Paris-based media freedom watchdog.

The group said that Kharchenko was previously attacked in 2017 and his car was set on fire last year.

Russia is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.

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