(CPJ/IFEX) - The following letter, sent by CPJ to Russian President Boris
Yeltsin on 4 September 1998, provides further details and thoughts around
the murder of Anatoly Levin-Utkin, deputy editor of the new St. Petersburg
weekly "Yuridichesky Peterburg Segodnya:"
**Further to IFEX alert of 26 August 1998**
"The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply disturbed by the
fatal beating of Anatoly Levin-Utkin, deputy editor of the new St.
Petersburg weekly 'Yuridichesky Peterburg Segondya', in apparent reprisal
for his work as a journalist.
"Levin-Utkin was severely beaten on August 21 in the doorway to his St.
Petersburg apartment. He was robbed of his briefcase, which contained
materials he had gathered for the next instalment of an investigative
series of articles on rivalries between major local financial and political
figures. The pockets in his clothing were ripped out, and all his valuables
were stolen, including 1,000 rubles (worth about US$180 at that time). The
41-year-old editor suffered numerous blows to his head, causing heavy brain
trauma. Surgeons operated on his brain twice within 24 hours, but the
damage was irreparable. Levin-Utkin died on August 24, never having
regained consciousness. The local prosecutor's office is investigating, but
so far no arrests have been made.
"Alexei Domnin, editor of 'Yuridichesky Peterburg Segodnya', told a news
conference on August 25 that he was certain the murder was connected with
the series of investigative stories on politically sensitive issues
published in the first two issues of the three week-old newspaper. Although
Levin-Utkin had not authored any of the pieces, Domnin said he had done a
good deal of the reporting, and had just finished gathering documents and
photos vital to the third instalment of the series when he was attacked.
Domnin said officials from the customs and secret services, who were
subjects of the articles, had called him after the second issue was
published demanding to know the names of sources and reporters who worked
on the series. He said he refused to do so. The officials have denied
making the calls. Domnin blamed local officials and financial interests for
at least two attempts to prevent the printing and distribution of the
newspaper's second issue. Many local colleagues believe Levin-Utkinâs
murder was related to his work at the paper.
"As a nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending the universally
recognized rights of our colleagues around the world, CPJ condemns the
fatal beating of Anatoly Levin-Utkin in apparent retribution for his work
as a journalist. Murders and beatings of journalists for their work have
become routine throughout Russia, fostering an atmosphere of fear and
intimidation that greatly hinders media freedom. We remind you of Russia's
international obligations to protect the rights of journalists to freely
and safely practice their profession, without fear of retaliation. We call
on you to make public the progress of your investigation and prosecute
"Thank you for your attention. We await your comments.
"Ann K. Cooper
Appeals should continue to be sent to:
President Boris Yeltsin
Moscow, Russian Federation
Fax: +7 095 206 5173 / 206 6277
Please copy appeals to the source if possible.