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In further blow to journalists, beaten Russian reporter gets slander conviction

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Beketov's conviction in a Khimki court comes just days after another journalist who had offended Mr. Strelchenko, Kommersant reporter Oleg Kashin, was beaten in an almost identical manner outside his downtown Moscow home. Mr. Kashin remains in critical condition in a Moscow hospital.

Both Kashin and Beketov had covered the controversy over plans, sponsored at the highest level of Russian government, to build a toll road through Khimki Forest, an old-growth green belt on the edge of Moscow.

A small band of local environmentalists, Defenders of the Khimki Forest, have suffered repeated arrests and many of their members have been attacked and beaten by unidentified thugs over the past three years. Just last week one of the group's strongest local supporters, activist Konstantin Fetisov, was badly injured by several unknown assailants on a Khimki street. He remains hospitalized.

The journalists who cover them have fared no better. Beketov was assaulted two years ago. In March 2009, Sergei Protazanov, designer of another local newspaper, Grazhdanskoye Soglasiye, died after being attacked in Khimki. Just last Sunday, Anatoly Adamchuk, a reporter for the suburban newspaper Zhukovskiye Vesti, reported being attacked near his home in the Moscow-region town of Zhukovsky. Mr. Adamchuk had been covering protests against a planned freeway through the nearby Tsagovsky Forest for his paper.

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