Russia briefly holds business columnist
Gregory White of The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday thatÂ a prominent newspaper columnist in Russia said Russian police briefly detained him for questioning about suspected extremist activity, as critics charge a newly toughened law against extremism is being used to intimidate Kremlin critics.
White wrote, “Valery Panyushkin, special correspondent at Vedomosti, a leading Russian business newspaper that is part-owned by Dow Jones & Co., the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, was the latest of several well-known commentators and activists who have been targeted under the law.”
Later, he added, “Mr. Panyushkin said an officer stopped him for questioning late Thursday as he prepared to board a train for a business trip to a city in southern Russia. Mr. Panyushkin said the officer didn’t specify the grounds for suspecting him of violating the law against extremism and let him board the train once he had signed a statement that he wasn’t a member of any extremist organization. A police spokesman said he couldn’t immediately comment on the incident.
“‘It’s incomprehensible to me on what grounds and by whom Valery could be suspected of violating that law,’ said Tatyana Lysova, editorial director at Vedomosti. ‘He’s just a journalist.’
“Mr. Panyushkin, 38 years old, writes about business and politics, and his columns have frequently attacked the Kremlin’s crackdown on dissent and political opposition.”
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