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Colleagues Say Russian Editor Beaten As Police Raid Newspaper Office

Russian media reports say that security forces stormed the office of a newspaper in the Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad and detained the editor in chief, who colleagues said was severely beaten.

Authorities said the editor was detained in connection with suspicions of extortion, which his colleagues dismissed as baseless.

Reports in the independent Moscow-based newspaper Novaya Gazeta and local media said that journalists at Novyye Kolyosa (New Wheels) believe the special-police raid and alleged beating were motivated by the newspaper's investigations into possible corruption among officials and law enforcement officers in Kaliningrad.

According to Novaya Gazeta, officers stormed the building on November 2 and spent five hours searching the office and questioning employees. It said the editor, Igor Rudnikov, was brought to the building in handcuffs and later taken out on a stretcher and put in an ambulance.

Local news site Novy Kaliningrad reported that Federal Security Service (FSB) officers barged into the hospital, where he had been taken, at night and took Rudnikov away.

There was no immediate comment from police or the FSB on the allegations that Rudnikov was beaten.

Regional Governor Anton Alikhanov told journalists late on November 2 that Rudnikov's detainment was connected to an ongoing Investigative Committee probe based on suspicions of extortion.

A local state-run TV channel Vesti-Kaliningrad reported that Rudnikov is suspected of extorting money from people it did not identify "in exchange for not publishing false and compromising materials about them."

Colleagues at Novyye Kolyosa called that report a provocation. Some contended that the raid and the detainment of Rudnikov were retaliation for material published by the newspaper, including reports suggesting that a senior Kaliningrad investigative official, Viktor Lednyov, owns luxury real estate.

Rudnikov has received numerous threats over his newspaper's investigative reports targeting corruption, his colleagues say.

With reporting by Novaya Gazeta, Vesti-Kaliningrad, and Novy Kaliningrad