NEW YORK—The attack on radio host Tatiana Felgenhauer is a frightening development for Russian journalism and those responsible must be held accountable, PEN America said in a statement today.

Tatiana Felgenhauer was stabbed in the neck on Monday in the offices of Ekho Moskvy, one of the few independent broadcasters in Russia that is known for its pointed criticism of the Kremlin. Russian authorities have detained the assailant, who has been identified as Boris Grits. Felgenhauer is in a serious but not critical condition after the attack, according to editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov.

Earlier this month, news reports on Russian state television claimed that Ekho Moskvy was working with pro-Western media to influence the outcome of the 2018 presidential elections; The Trade Union of Journalists and Media Workers and Russia’s Union of Journalists have both alleged that these news reports played a part in inciting hatred towards Felgenhauer and others at Ekho Moskvy. This is far from the first time that Ekho  Moskvy reporters have been attacked: Venediktov has also been targeted by nationalist attackers after pointing to the increased intolerance for dissent in Russia and the impunity with which attacks towards perceived dissenters are carried out. In September reporter and commentator Yulia Latynina fled Russia following a concerted campaign of intimidation towards her.

“It is very difficult not to link the stabbing of Tatiana Felgenhauer, a prominent and well-respected journalist at one of the few independent broadcasters remaining in Russia, to what amounts to a smear campaign on state television,” said PEN America Free Expression Programs Manager for Eurasia Polina Kovaleva. “The Kremlin’s ongoing inaction in the face of these attacks towards journalists who dare to criticize or question the status quo must cease, and all those responsible must be held to account.”

PEN America has documented the narrowing space for free expression in Russia, noting in particular the targeting of journalists, opposition activists, and creative professionals, and the impunity with which such attacks are carried out.

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PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world.  Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

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Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Coordinator: agasparian@pen.org, +1.646.981.0685