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Russian newspaper to arm reporters after attack

October 27, 2017

Reporters working for Russian anti-regime newspaper Novaya Gazeta will be provided with less than lethal weapons, said editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov, after a man stabbed radio host Tatyana Felgenhauer in the neck.

Russland Dmitry Muratov Herausgeber der Zeitung Novaya Gazeta
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/E. Biyatov

Newspaper Novaya Gazeta will pay for the weapons and provide training to its journalists, editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov said on the independent radio Ekho Moskvy on Thursday. Both Ekho Moskvy and Muratov's Novaya Gazeta are among the top anti-regime media outlets in Russia.

"I will arm the newsroom," Muratov said on air. "We will also supply journalists with other security means that I don't want to talk about."

Muratov specifically referred to buying "traumatic weapons" which in Russian most commonly refers to gas-powered pistols firing rubber bullets.

The state is not providing protection to the media, he added.

'Telepathic contact'

Stun gun
Non-lethal pistols often look and sound like conventional firearmsImage: Picture-alliance/dpa/C. Rehder

Earlier this week, a reportedly deranged man entered the premises of Ekho Moskvy and attacked 32-year-old host Tatyana Felgenhauer, stabbing her in the neck. He apparently had never met the presenter before. However, while questioned by the authorities, the 48-year assailant accused her of sexually harassing him through "telepathic contact."

Tatyana Felgenhauer survived the stabbing and is currently recovering in hospital.

Some independent reporters have speculated that pro-regime agents might have used the man's delusions to manipulate him into attacking the presenter.

Everyone 'can become a target' of a madman

Commenting on the attack, the official Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the authorities had no plans to boost security for journalists.

"Unfortunately, everyone of us can become a target of a madman," Peskov told reporters. He also reacted to Muratov's plan to "arm the newsroom," saying that reporters were free to take any steps to protect themselves as long as they are not breaking the law.

Russian weapons manufacturing giant "Kalashnikov" also responded to Muratov's statements, saying they were ready to offer a 10-percent discount on non-lethal weapons for all reporters. The company could also offer consultations on self-defense, they added.

Novaya Gazeta in the crosshairs

Several reporters working for Novaya Gazeta have either been killed or died under suspicious circumstances over the years. Most notably, renowned Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya was shot in the elevator of her apartment block in 2006.

Read more: Questions remain despite Politkovskaya murder convictions

Suspected pro-regime assailants also target opposition politicians and anti-Kremlin activists. Last month, a top aide of anti-regime politician Alexei Navalny was hit in the head with a metal pipe in Moscow.

dj/ng (AFP, AP)