(MOSCOW) — A well-known journalist for Russia’s top independent radio station was stabbed in the throat Monday by an attacker who burst into her studio — the latest in a string of attacks on journalists and opposition activists in Moscow.
The assailant broke into the Ekho Moskvy offices and stabbed deputy editor Tatyana Felgenhauer, editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov said. She is best known for co-hosting a popular morning radio show and also serves as deputy editor.
Felgenhauer, 32, underwent surgery at a hospital and was put in medically-induced coma as doctors determine the best course of treatment, he said.
The attacker, after being apprehended, told investigators he had been in “telepathic contact with Felgenhauer” for five years.
The station said the attack was clearly premeditated. To get into the building, the assailant sprayed gas in the face of a security guard at the entrance on the ground floor then went up to the 14th floor, where the station’s studios are.
“The man came here on purpose. He knew where he was going,” Venediktov told reporters.
While Ekho Moskvy is majority-owned by a media arm of the state-controlled Gazprom natural gas giant, its programs have often been critical of the government, irking many in Russian political and business circles. Its hosts and journalists have previously reported death threats.
Another popular Ekho Moskvy host, Yulia Latynina, fled Russia in September following a suspected arson attack on her car.
The Investigative Committee, the top state investigative agency that deals with high-profile crimes, identified the attacker as the 48-year-old Boris Grits. It said Grits, who has Russian and Israeli citizenship, left for Israel in 2003 and came back to Moscow a month ago.
It said Grits told investigators he had a “telepathic contact” with Felgenhauer since 2012 and had a personal grudge against her. The committee said he would remain in custody and undergo a psychiatric expertise.
In a brief video of his interrogation released by Moscow police, he claimed the journalist was “haunting” him.
The spokesman for the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office described the attack as “outrageous” and said its prosecutors will investigate the case closely.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin tweeted that he was shocked by the attack and was monitoring her treatment.
State-owned Russian media have long targeted Ekho Moskvy for its critical reporting.
The state television channel Rossiya 24 put out a report two weeks ago that described the station as an “arm of the U.S. State Department,” saying it gets paid for “destabilizing society” ahead of Russia’s presidential election in March.
Columnist Oleg Kashin, who survived in a brutal attack in 2010 that was never properly investigated, told the Dozhd television station that Felgenhauer’s “blood is on the hands of people from Rossiya 24, too.”
Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, says the failure of Russian authorities to respond to the recurrent attacks and threats against independent journalists, activists and opposition leaders have made such attacks possible.
The Council of Europe, the continent’s top rights group, said its chief Thorbjorn Jagland was appalled by the attack on Felgenhauer and called for it to “be thoroughly and quickly investigated.”