Russian journalist out of coma after beating

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Nov. 12, 2010, 3:04 p.m. | Russia and former Soviet Union — by Reuters
MOSCOW, Nov. 12 (Reuters) - The wife of a Russian journalist who was savagely beaten by unidentified attackers said on Friday he had regained consciousness after lying in a medically-induced coma for almost a week. Two men used an iron pipe hidden in a bouquet of flowers to attack Oleg Kashin, a political reporter with the newspaper Kommersant, near his Moscow apartment last the weekend, just a few minutes walk from the Kremlin.

They fractured his skull and smashed his legs and fingers in one of a long line of attacks, sometimes fatal, on Russian reporters.

"Oleg saw me for the first time, we held hands ... He is still in a difficult condition but he was fully conscious," Kashin's wife Evgenya Milova told Reuters by telephone after visiting her husband in hospital.

"I told him about how much support he was getting from everyone. He is still on a respirator and can't talk, but I could tell by his reaction that he was pleased. He smiled."

Hundreds of journalists and bloggers rallied in support of Kashin, 30, in central Moscow on Thursday demanding authorities find and prosecute those responsible for a series of attacks on reporters.

There have been 19 unsolved murders of journalists in Russia since 2000, including the 2006 killing of Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

The CPJ lists Russia as the world's eighth most dangerous country for journalists.

The attack on Kashin, who blogged against plans to build a motorway through a protected forest on the edge of Moscow, was captured on closed-circuit television.

President Dmitry Medvedev has pledged to improve civil society and give people more freedom to criticise the authorities, although critics say he has yet to take action.

Kashin's wife said doctors refused to give a timeline for her husband's potential recovery.

"He is conscious, but the doctors are very cautious and hesitant in their prognosis. They will not give us a timeline yet," she told Reuters. Kommersant publishes mild criticism of the authorities, but Kashin ruffled angered some people with his investigative reports about extremist groups as well as opposition and pro-Kremlin youth movements in the paper and his popular blog.
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