Feature

Reporters muzzled

The week's news at a glance.

Moscow

The Russian government tried to block some of the region’s most respected journalists from reporting on the school hostage tragedy in Beslan last week. Two top Georgian reporters were arrested when they reached Beslan; they were held until the shooting had stopped and more than 350 lives were lost. Andrei Babitsky, a reporter with U.S.-funded Radio Liberty, was detained at the Moscow airport, and was released only after U.S. protests. Babitsky had been held by Russian forces once before, after he reported on the Russian onslaught in Chechnya, and was freed after two months of arbitrary detention and beatings. And Raf Shakirov, the respected editor of Moscow’s Izvestiya, was forced to resign after publishing a full-page photo spread of the schoolyard victims. Izvestiya was one of the first papers to dispute the government’s assertion that only 300 hostages were being held by Chechen separatists. The actual number turned out to be more than 1,200.

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