Russian journalist says attacker was intent on killing her

MOSCOW (AP) – A Russian radio journalist who narrowly survived a stabbing attack last month said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday that the attacker was intent on killing her and had planned it.

The October 23 assault on Tatyana Felgenhauer, a top host and deputy editor-in-chief at Ekho Moskvy, brought into the spotlight a growing wave of violence against Russian journalists. In most cases, the incidents were not investigated.

Felgenhauer spent days in intensive care and hours in a medically induced coma after she was stabbed in the throat by an attacker who walked into the station’s offices in central Moscow last month.

While Ekho Moskvy is majority-owned by the media arm of the state-controlled Gazprom natural gas giant, its programmes have often been critical of the government, angering many in Russian political and business circles. Its hosts and journalists have previously reported receiving death threats which were largely played down as mere pranks.

Ekho Moskvy radio station’s journalist Tatyana Felgenhauer speaks to the Associated Press in Moscow, Russia on November 8. – AP

The London-based Index on Censorship, which monitors freedom of expression, has documented 35 incidents of physical assault and injury and three journalists killed this year in Russia, up from 34 attacks and two deaths in the same period last year.

The impunity for the attackers is creating a toxic environment for journalists in Russia, Ekho Moskvy’s editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov told the AP.

“In Russia in the past several years, so many people have been killed, maimed, attacked and threatened,” he says. “But that’s not the main problem: the problem is these attacks go uninvestigated. The problem is that the justice system is sloppy about treating attacks on journalists.”

Ksenia Larina, a host at Ekho Moskvy, fled Russia shortly after the attack on Felgenhauer because of security concerns, a month after Yulia Latynina, arguably the station’s biggest star, fled Russia after her car was set on fire.