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Novaya Gazeta, Citing Attacks On Journalists, To Arm Its Newsroom Staff

Novaya Gazeta's editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov
Novaya Gazeta's editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov

The editor of Russia's most prominent opposition newspaper says he intends to arm his staff with guns that fire rubber bullets in light of recent attacks on journalists.

Novaya Gazeta editor Dmitry Muratov discussed his plans on October 26, two days after Tatyana Felgenhauer, a program host at Russia's only independent news radio station, Ekho Moskvy, was stabbed in the station's central Moscow studios.

Muratov told the station that the newspaper is buying "trauma weapons" for its journalists, providing courses on how to use them, and taking other unspecified security measures.

"Trauma weapons" usually refer to pistols that fire rubber bullets.

"I will arm the newsroom," he said. "We will also supply journalists with other security means that I don't want to talk about."

"We will conclude an official agreement with the Russian Interior Ministry," he said. "I have no other choice."

Sergei Sokolov, a deputy editor at the newspaper, told the AFP news agency, "If the state is not ready to protect us, we will protect ourselves."

"When journalists find themselves helpless in the face of lawlessness on the streets and indiscipline of law enforcement agencies, there is no other way," he said.

Several Novaya Gazeta journalists have been killed or died under mysterious circumstances, including renowned Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya. She was shot dead in 2006.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on October 26 that he saw no reason to supply extra security for journalists, but said citizens can take security measures they think are necessary as long as they comply with the law.

"Unfortunately, every one of us can become the target of a madman," Peskov told reporters.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP