Journalist Honored After Badly Beaten

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Russian journalist, Mikhail Beketov, was nearly beaten to death in 2008 after investigating corruption in Khimki--a Moscow suburb; and is now, years later, being presented honors.

Beketov, currently recovering in an Israeli clinic, suffered severe brain damage--leaving him with an inability to speak in full sentences--the amputation of one of his legs, and the inability to use his hands after having his fingers bashed in. Even still, after receiving all of these injuries and coming out of a coma, Beketov was still required to appear in court to defend himself against slander charges.

Nevertheless, three years later, he is one of the recipients of an annual award for excellence in print journalism, bestowed by the Prime Minister of Russia--Vladimir Putin. And, while there is prize money granted with the award, it only totals to about 32,000 American dollars; which is no where near enough money to pay for Beketov's treatment, or the lasting physical/brain damage caused by his brutal beating.

Furthermore, according to the New York Times, the people who crippled Beketov--many of which are Russian government officials--are still roaming free.

Several of Beketov's friends and colleagues have spoken up about their beliefs that Beketov being awarded this prize is cynical. However, Dmitri Muratov, editor of the weekly newspaper Novaya Gazeta, who nominated Beketov, stressed that this prize is a state prize and that the money does not come from Putin personally.

Even still, there are still numerous doubts about the reasoning and the integrity behind Beketov's reception of the prize this year. The top human rights specialist from the United States State Department visited Beketov's colleagues near Khimki two weeks ago, promising to press the Russian government further on human rights.

When reading about situations such as these, I am that much happier that I am entering the field of journalism in America, where freedom of the press is truly a practice. However, it is also in reading stories such as this, that should serve as reminders to journalists, as well as the public, that as quickly as a freedom is granted, it can be taken away.

Beketov was simply investigating corruption, and now he has lost the function of a third of his brain. Current and aspiring journalists, as well as the American people, need to readily practice the First Amendment right of freedom of the press and question authority whenever necessary before it's too late.

Photo (Khimki Forest Construction): Courtesy of


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