NEW YORK—It is the urgent moral responsibility of Russian authorities to thoroughly investigate the murder of journalist Nikolai Andrushchenko, PEN America said in a statement today.

Andrushchenko, the 73-year-old co-founder of Novy Peterburg, a weekly newspaper in St. Petersburg, was beaten on March 9 and remained in serious condition in the hospital for over a month until his death on April 19. His colleagues point to his reporting on Russian authorities’ corruption and human rights abuses, as well as his criticism of President Putin, as likely motives for his murder. There have been no arrests and no one has yet been identified as a suspect.

Andrushchenko reported that he was threatened weeks earlier with demands for documents relating to his most recent investigation into the relationship of high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Federal Security Service in St. Petersburg. Novy Peterburg’s Editor-in-Chief Denis Usov claims there is no direct link between this investigation and the beating that led to his death, according to DW.

“Since the moment Nikolai Andrushchenko was found unconscious on the street, Russian police have not investigated the case and have gone so far to dismiss it as an accident,” said Polina Kovaleva, PEN America’s Free Expression Programs Coordinator for Eurasia. “The Russian authorities cannot allow attacks of any kind against journalists, writers, or bloggers to go unnoted or uninvestigated. The perpetrators must be identified and brought to trial.”

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Andrushchenko’s murder is the first instance of a journalist being killed in Russia since 2013.

Nikolai Andrushchenko was repeatedly persecuted for his investigations into official corruption. In 2007, police raided the Novy Peterburg office and jailed Andrushchenko on charges of defamation and obstruction of justice stemming from his reporting on a murder investigation. He was also beaten, resulting in problems with his vision, and resumed writing only after years of recovery.

The ongoing climate of impunity for crimes against journalists and writers in Russia has engendered a world free of fear for those who wish to suppress opposition voices, whether violently by means of attacks and harassment or through legal channels. As noted in PEN America’s report Discourse in Danger: Attacks on Free Expression in Putin’s Russia, this has led to rising self-censorship and further limits to the public’s access to independent information sources, already much constrained by official action.


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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