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Journalist With Russia's Ekho Moskvy Hospitalized After Stabbing

Tatyana Felgengauer (file photo)
Tatyana Felgengauer (file photo)

Russian journalist Tatyana Felgengauer, a deputy editor in chief and program host of the liberal Ekho Moskvy radio station, has been assaulted and stabbed in the station's offices in the center of Moscow.

Felgengauer was rushed into surgery following the October 23 attack, after which she was placed in a medically induced coma.

The authorities have identified the alleged attacker, who was detained at the scene, as 48-year-old Boris Grits, who has both Russian and Israeli citizenship.

The Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case into charges of attempted murder.

Moscow police released a 31-second video in which the suspect claims he has been in "psychic contact" with Felgengauer since 2012 and that in recent months she has "used telepathic contact" in order to sexually torment him.

Officials said the suspect was undergoing psychiatric evaluation.

Journalists have identified one blog as possibly belonging to Grits. It documents his largely unsuccessful efforts to find work as a computer programmer.

However, an entry dated October 20 accuses Felgengauer of "experimenting" on him psychically and causing him heart pain. The entry says Grits consulted with a Moscow "psychic" that he has known for 30 years about Felgengauer.

Ekho Moskvy editor in chief Aleksei Venediktov said the assailant rushed past station guards after spraying them with a chemical.

It is unclear how Grits made it to the station's offices on the 14th floor. The crowded building has only two public elevators that are notoriously slow.

Venediktov told RFE/RL that the attacker went directly into the room where Felgengauer was sitting.

"He knew the layout of the rooms at the station," Venediktov said. "There can be no doubt about that."

"The attacker didn't shout anything," station deputy editor in chief Sergei Buntman, who witnessed the attack, told the Meduza website. "Everything was quiet. He just walked up to her, grabbed her, and stabbed her."

The Uzbekistan-born Felgengauer, 32, is a stepdaughter of the well-known Russian journalist and military expert Pavel Felgenhauer. She has worked at Ekho Moskvy since 2005.

Owned by the Kremlin-controlled Gazprom natural gas company, Ekho Moskvy is one of the few remaining independent media outlets in Russia. It has managed to avoid being targeted for criminal investigations, which are often used in Russia to silence media.

Journalists 'Under Assault'

Journalists frequently come under attack or are harassed in Russia. In September, Ekho Moskvy journalist Yulia Latynina fled Russia after being attacked and threatened in Moscow.

Political analyst Yekaterina Vinokurova wrote on the social-media site VKontakte that "Tanya and Ekho Moskvy have been under assault for years."

"They have attacked journalists from the station," Vinokurova wrote. "They have hung banners with their photos saying they were 'enemies of the people,' 'agents of the [U.S.] State Department, and so on. There has been all sorts of garbage about them coming from state television.... Now we have come to this and they shameless are talking about the motive of 'hooliganism.'"

Physical attacks on Russian opposition figures and journalists are often investigated under the relatively lax law against "hooliganism," rather than as assaults or attempted murder.

Vsevolod Bogdanov, chairman of the Russian Union of Journalists, condemned the attack on Felgengauer.

"We are facing this on a regular basis – battery, murders, the number of members of the club of children of murdered parents is growing," he said. "We are members of the International Press Federation in Brussels. We pay our membership fees and we are holders of the International Press Card. A holder of this ID feels absolutely safe in Paris and places like that. However, here in Russia, nothing changes."

According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, two journalists have been killed in Russia so far in 2017.

With reporting by Meduza, Interfax, Dozhd TV, and RIA Novosti