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Ekho Moskvy Chief Says Another Reporter Flees Russia Due To Threats

Ekho Moskvy editor in chief Aleksei Venediktov speaks to journalists at the radio station in Moscow on October 23.
Ekho Moskvy editor in chief Aleksei Venediktov speaks to journalists at the radio station in Moscow on October 23.

The top editor of the influential Moscow radio station Ekho Moskvy has said that one of his leading producers fled the country out of concern for her safety.

The announcement of Ksenia Larina's departure from Russia, made on October 27 by station chief Aleksei Venediktov, was the latest sign of worsening troubles for Russian journalists, particularly those working for non-state-controlled or opposition media outlets.

Earlier this week, the station's deputy chief editor, Tatyana Felgengauer, was stabbed in the neck by a man who barged into the station's Moscow studios. The man was arrested and investigators have not revealed whether they have discovered a motive.

In an interview with Dozhd TV, Venediktov did not specify why Larina had to flee Russia, but he suggested that a well-known media personality, Vladimir Solovyov, was to blame, something Larina also said on Facebook.

The day after the attack on Felgengauer, Solovyov hosted a program on Vesti-FM radio that, among other things, criticized Ekho Moskvy and its reporters.

"I made the decision to evacuate [her] from the country and she'll be out of the country for half a year at a minimum, so long as her security cannot be guaranteed," Venediktov said. "Because the next blow to the neck from a knife could be because of Solovyov's programs, and he will be the instigator."

Several days before the attack on Felgengauer, the state TV channel Russia-24 broadcast a program in which it alleged some Ekho Moskvy reporters, including Felgengauer, were "working for the West."

Larina's flight from Russia follows a similar decision in September by Yulia Latynina, who cited a suspected arson attack on her car and other suspicions actions.

In a column published in the newspaper Novaya Gazeta the day after the attack on Felgengauer, Latynina also lay blame on Russian officials and their threatening rhetoric.

"The attack on Felgengauer falls neatly into the line of numerous attacks on independent journalists and opposition politicians that were met with impunity," she wrote.

The top editor of Novaya Gazeta said this week that the threats and violence against his reporters had forced him to issue guns that fire rubber bullets to his staff.

Several Novaya Gazeta journalists have been killed or died under mysterious circumstances, including renowned reporter Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot in the foyer of her Moscow apartment building in 2006.