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Russian independent newspaper says it will arm its staff to guard against further attacks

Following a shocking attack at an independent radio station earlier this week, the chief editor of the newspaper Novaya Gazeta announced on Wednesday that he plans to “arm” his newsroom with air guns to protect itself.

“Maybe I’ll regret this, but I’ll say now [...] that I’m going to arm the newsroom. I have no alternative. We’ve survived many attempts [on our staff],” said chief editor Dmitry Muratov. “Officially, we’ll reach an agreement with the Russian Interior Ministry. We’re going to place an order for traumatic weapons [air guns], and train the staff on how to use them. We’ll also be supplying journalists with other means of security, which I don’t want to discuss [publicly],” Muratov explained.

Addressing Monday’s knife attack on Ekho Moskvy deputy chief editor Tatyana Felgenhauer, Muratov listed a number of recent attacks on independent Russian journalists, politicians, and public figures (including the assassination of Boris Nemtsov and nonfatal attacks on Yulia Latynina, Elena Kostyuchenko, Alexey Navalny, Nikolai Lyaskin, and Igor Kalyapin), as well as the 2010 near-fatal assault on journalist Oleg Kashin and past murders of Novaya Gazeta reporters Igor Domnikov, Anna Politkovskaya, and Natalia Estemirova.

Muratov was careful to say that he doesn’t believe the Russian government is responsible for these crimes, but he said the authorities must bring the perpetrators to justice. “And when they fail here, people get a sense of impunity,” he argued.

On October 23, a man named Boris Grits, who holds both Russian and Israeli citizenship, forced his way into the Ekho Moskvy studio and stabbed Felgenhauer in the neck. The journalist was hospitalized immediately in serious condition, and is now recovering.

Apparently suffering from a mental illness, Grits later told police officers that Felgenhauer has been harassing him “telepathically” for several years. He’s been arrested for attempted murder.