Prosecutors Take Over Beketov Investigation

Prosecutors have taken over the investigation of the brutal attack on newspaper editor and environmental activist Mikhail Beketov and may classify the beating as attempted murder rather than aggravated assault, a Prosecutor General's Office spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Police in the Moscow region had been investigating the attack on Beketov, editor and owner of Khimkinskaya Pravda in the Moscow suburb of Khimki who was found Nov. 13 bloodied and unconscious near his home after an attack his friends say is linked to criticism of local authorities' deforestation plans.

On Monday, it was decided to hand the case over to prosecutors, Marina Gridneva, a spokeswoman for the Prosecutor General's Office, told the Public Chamber on Tuesday.

"We are considering classifying the case as attempted murder," Gridneva said, adding that Prosecutor General Yury Chaika had been keeping personal watch over the case "from day one" and wants it solved as soon as possible.

Khimki Mayor Vladimir Strelchenko, a target of much of Beketov's criticism, told the Public Chamber meeting that he considered the attack on the editor "a tragedy." He suggested, however, that newspapers in the town were being financed by unknown individuals with murky intentions.

Beketov is currently hospitalized in grave but stable condition at the Sklifosovsky clinic in central Moscow.