Friday 20 September 2019

Russian journalist's attacker 'planned stabbing and intended to kill her'

Tatyana Felgenhauer was
Tatyana Felgenhauer was "millimetres from death" following the attack (AP)

A Russian radio journalist who narrowly survived a stabbing attack last month said her assailant was intent on killing her and had planned it.

Tatyana Felgenhauer, a top host and deputy editor-in-chief at Ekho Moskvy, was stabbed in the throat at the station's offices in central Moscow last month and spent hours in a medically-induced coma.

While Ekho Moskvy is majority-owned by a 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.

Investigators identified Ms Felgenhauer's attacker as 48-year-old Boris Grits, who has Russian and Israeli citizenship.

He is in custody and his testimony released by the police suggests that he might be mentally unstable.

Pressed by rights activists, President Vladimir Putin rejected suggestions that the attack on Ms Felgenhauer was because of her critical reporting, calling the attacker a "sick man".

The journalist, who was discharged from a hospital last week, told AP she is convinced that Grits was not deranged and knew what he was doing.

"I'm confident that he is sane, he had planned it very carefully," said Ms Felgenhauer, who was wearing a scarf to hide her wounds.

"He struck with determination."

Doctors say the journalist still has to go through at least a two-month course of rehabilitation before she can return to air.

The attack on Ms Felgenhauer, the latest in a string of assaults on journalists and opposition activists in Moscow, came two weeks after a state-owned television station targeted Ms Felgenhauer in a smear piece.

Rossiya 24 claimed that Ekho Moskvy was paid for "destabilising society" ahead of Russia's presidential election in March.

The radio station has petitioned the investigators to look into a possible link between the attacker and the smear report, Ekho Moskvy's editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov said.

The case file that the station's lawyers have access to suggests that the attacker had an accomplice, he said.

"There are several weird elements in this case ... that testify to the fact that he knew something that he won't speak about ... and that he had accomplices," Mr Venediktov said.

Ekho's corridors on Wednesday were busy, and the guest room where Ms Felgenhauer was attacked had no traces of the horrific scenes a month earlier. But the mood was wary.

Mr Venediktov said: "(We feel) relief because Tatyana was four millimetres away from death.

" The attacker's knife missed the vital organs just by a scratch.

"There is also anxiety because a journalist was attacked and nearly killed at her workplace."

The station is working to boost security measures, he said.


PA Media

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