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20 Jan, 2010 17:25

Journalist assaulted by policeman dies in hospital

A journalist who was beaten by police in the Siberian city of Tomsk has died in hospital.

However, the police department of the Tomsk region warned about premature conclusions on the causes of the journalist’s death.

“The cause of death is not yet revealed,” Natalia Ustymenko, Chief of Information and Public Relations Department of Internal Affairs of the Tomsk region, told Interfax news agency.

In her opinion, the victim – Konstantin Popov – could have died from alcohol intoxication due to consumption of alcoholic beverages.

The man was taken to the detoxification center from his apartment on January 4 as the neighbors complained that the drunken journalist listened to music too loudly.

According to the investigators, the 47-year-old man was manhandled by policeman Aleksey Mitaev there. A few hours later the man was sent home, but collapsed and was taken to hospital. After surgery the journalist fell into a coma.

Mitaev was arrested on January 15 and charged under Articles 111 (deliberate infliction of grievous bodily harm) and 286 (abuse of authority) of the Russian Criminal Code.

RIA-Novosti news agency reports that Mitaev explained his actions were due to extreme stress. The 26-year-old police officer told the investigators that he had to live in two families in recent years, while having difficulties in building relationships with three young children.

Mitaev suggests that it was his troubled personal life which made him beat the drunken man up.

The Tomsk Union of Journalists and the governor of Tomsk region Victor Kress have made statements in connection with the incident. In addition, the head of Internal Affairs of Tomsk region Victor Grechman formally apologized to the relatives, friends and colleagues of the affected journalists on January 18.

Mitaev and the head of the detoxification center have lost their jobs.

Moreover, the center itself, where the beating occurred, was shut down on Tuesday. There were no statements on whether the move was a result of the incident or had been planned beforehand.