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Assaulted journalist puts little faith in police.

From wire reports

RIGA - Internet portal journalist Leonids Jakobsons, who was assaulted and appeared to have suffered gunshot wounds in the evening of March 29, is currently recovering in Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital, reports LETA. Jakobsons, shot at and badly beaten, says that he lost a lot of blood and that he barely survived the attack. His life is not in danger.

State Police Riga Region Department spokesman Toms Sadovskis said that the two yet unidentified assailants most likely used a gas pistol or another weapon. A criminal process has been started.

It was at 47 Caka Street where the attack took place, apparently in the stairwell between the first and second floors. A pool of blood was seen there.

A person at the apartment building said that Jakobsons, who is a tenant, was probably shot at close range. He had managed somehow to make it to his apartment on an upper floor, and called the rescue squad himself.

Jakobsons has recently been at the center of attention in media circles since began printing Riga Mayor [then MP] Nils Usakovs' e-mails from 2008 with now former Russian Embassy advisor Alexander Hapilov. The portal eventually turned to the Prosecutor General's Office, suspecting wrongdoing on Usakovs' part.

Published articles about Usakovs' e-mail correspondence this March blames the mayor for using media outlets to manipulate Latvia's Russian speaking residents. recently published articles about the highly controversial former State Revenue Service officer, now-suspended Finance Ministry official, Vladimirs Vaskevics, as well.

Last month the portal published a series of articles about the contract killings of Latvian businessmen Aigars Lusis, Gatis Aispurs and Genadijs Peredelskis, as well as the attempt to assassinate Vaskevics.

Jakobsons has been questioned by the police. He no longer remains under police protection.

He believes that those who attacked him wish to halt his professional work. The goal was to either scare him, or murder him, Jakobsons wrote in a text message to colleagues at Latvian Radio 4 on Friday. Asked whether he believes the police will find the culprits, Jakobsons told colleagues that it looks like the police are continuing their campaign against him. He said that four police officers supposedly protecting him have continued to make fun of him, and spoke of how good Mayor Usakovs is. Usakovs, on Twitter, expressed his condolences to Jakobsons but denied any involvement in the shooting, adding, obtusely, "I have an alibi," reported

In a democratic country, attacking a journalist is the same as attacking freedom of speech, proclaimed Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis (Unity). The prime minister calls on all law enforcement authorities to thoroughly investigate the assault and find out whether it was due to Jakobsons' professional activities.

The perpetrators must be apprehended and punished. Mass media's rights to expression and not be affected by anyone are vitally important for democracy. It is a duty of the state to protect and uphold these rights.

Reporters Without Borders in an announcement says it is horrified by the attack. "We firmly condemn this targeted attack on Jakobsons, which was clearly linked to the highly sensitive subjects of his investigative reporting, and we hope he recovers quickly," it said.

"With fellow journalist Grigorijs Nemcovs' murder two years ago still unsolved, it is vital that the police do everything possible to quickly identify both the perpetrators and instigators of this murder attempt or else there is danger that a climate of intimidation and self-censorship will take hold," the organization added.

Jakobsons was attacked in the stairwell of his apartment building as he returned home after work. After firing shots at him at close range, his two assailants beat him and kicked him. Badly wounded, he was rushed to the hospital. Jakobsons sustained facial burns from gunpowder explosions, but no bullet wounds. His nine-year-old son, who was with him at the time, was not injured. The police said the two assailants quickly fled the scene and have not yet been identified.

The founder and editor of Kompromat, Jakobsons won the National Journalism Prize in 2009 in the Defense of Media Freedom category. Kompromat has been attracting more and more readers because of its coverage of corruption and organized crime, Reporters Without Borders says.

Last December, Jakobsons was detained for 48 hours and then released without being charged after posting an alleged exchange of e-mails between the Russian embassy and Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs that suggested that the embassy secretly funded the mayor's election campaign.

Latvia is ranked 50th out of 179 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, after falling 37 places in the past two years.
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Title Annotation:News Latvia
Publication:The Baltic Times (Riga, Latvia)
Geographic Code:4EXLA
Date:Apr 4, 2012
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