Last November, a leading Russian journalist had been brutally beaten outside his Moscow home.
The assault against Oleg Kashin was also a general warning towards all critical journalists in Russia. Kashin has been reporting for the newspaper “Kommersant” since 2009; mainly on the Russian non-parliamentary opposition.
There certainly was no lack of theories about why Kashin was targeted. Many people thought immediately about United Russia’s youth wing, Molodaya Gvardia. They openly threatened Kashin in an August article on their website.
Kashin’s sin? He interviewed one of the radical anti-fascist protesters who protested against the cutting down of the Khimki forest this summer. That interview is not particularly rebellious; Kashin even follows a fairly strict line with his interviewee.
Nevertheless, it lead the police to asking the “Kommersant” to turn over Kashin’s emails.
Russian Journalists United
Kashin had been in the headlines of Russian news and talk-shows for several weeks, yet his offenders remained unknown.
BUT: Despite the government’s promises to solve the case as soon as possible, Russian citizens did not want to trust their words anymore. For weeks, they were protesting for a free press and a speedy and sorrow investigation of Kashin’s case.
AND: What helped was Kashin’s high internet presence. Because he is such a big personality on the web, the “community” spread the word really quick.
– Which then led to people’s presence on the street.
– Which then led to make the incident a big story for the news shows on television.
So I think that’s a very good example for how the internet generated a lot of attention for an attack against press freedom.
Especially in a country that, as Adrian mentioned, is almost unreasonably loyal to its government, this means quite a lot, doesn’t it?