Putin calls free press enemy of frauds, bribers, not administration

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

ST. PETERSBURG. April 7 (Interfax) – The free press can be an enemy only for frauds and bribers, not the administration as such, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

“The free press can only be an enemy for frauds, bribers and criminals, but there can be no such situation for the administration as such, which is serving people,” Putin said at the media forum Truth and Justice in St. Petersburg on Thursday, commenting on the speech by a forum participant who said her colleague, journalist Alexander Khodzinsky, was killed in the city of Tulun, Irkutsk region, in 2012. The journalist said the city’s former mayor, Gennady Zhigarev, had been convicted of the crime.

“That killing was perpetrated as a result of the fact that Alexander Khodzinsky was investigating the illegal construction of a mall by the family of the assassin, Zhigarev,” she said.

However, she said the assassin was convicted for “murder in a state of insanity,” which is a milder crime than “murder,” and received punishment in the form of one year and ten months of restricted freedom as a result of that.

“I am asking you, personally, as leader of the United Popular Front, as president of the country, to manifest political will and ask the Prosecutor General’s Office to send this case to an additional investigator, so that the assassin gets a punishment that is appropriate for the crime,” the forum participant said.

She said all journalists in her city are now enemies of the local administration.

The Russian president, for his part, said he will ask the prosecutor general to “study this case and make a relevant decision, give recommendations to the investigative bodies.

“Don’t even doubt, [it will be done] today,” Putin said.