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Putin Hails Russian Journalist Who Survived 2008 Attack

Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Mikhail Beketov, a journalist who survived a near-fatal attack in 2008 and died this week, for his bravery and service to society, according to a Kremlin statement.

Beketov was “a bright individual -- courageous, manly and not indifferent,” Putin said in a statement posted on the Kremlin website late yesterday. “He saw his calling in serving society, defending fairness and the rights and interests of people, and he firmly followed his professional and moral principles.”

Beketov, who edited a newspaper in the Moscow region town of Khimki, was confined to a wheelchair and lost the ability to speak after the beating, which colleagues linked to his work, including reports criticizing plans to build a road through a local forest. His attackers weren’t found.

Beketov choked to death in a Khimki hospital, which he was visiting for a routine check-up, his lawyer Stalina Gurevich said April 8. He was 55.

Rights groups have criticized Putin for not doing enough to clamp down on attacks against reporters or find their killers. Paul Klebnikov, the American editor of Forbes Inc.’s Russian edition, was gunned down in 2004, and Novaya Gazeta reporter Anna Politkovskaya, who reported on human rights abuses in the North Caucasus, was shot dead on Putin’s birthday in 2006.

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