Victim of Attack Faces Amputation

Doctors were deliberating Monday evening whether to amputate the frostbitten fingers of Mikhail Beketov, a newspaper editor and environmental activist in the Moscow suburb of Khimki who was brutally assaulted and left for dead earlier this month, his ex-wife said in a telephone interview.

Beketov, editor and owner of Khimkinskaya Pravda, remained in a coma Monday at the Sklifosovsky clinic in central Moscow, where his condition was grave but stable.

"I think he will live," said Antonina Glushchai, Beketov's ex-wife. "He's very strong, and he wants to live."

Beketov, 50, was found Nov. 13 bloodied and unconscious near his home after an attack that his friends say is linked to his criticism of local authorities' deforestation plans. According to doctors, at least 24 hours passed between the attack and the time Beketov was found, his colleagues said. Doctors have already amputated his right leg.

Police have detained no suspects in connection with the attack, a Moscow region police spokesman said Monday, Interfax reported. The spokesman denied media reports that an arrest warrant had been issued in the case.

In an interview Saturday at Beketov's home, the editor's brother, Mikhail Kursa, said a former police officer -- now mixed up in organized crime -- was being sought for carrying out the attack.

Kursa said he learned this in a conversation with a Khimki police investigator who told him "the involvement of the Khimki administration" is the only credible version of events that police have.

Reached by telephone Monday, Alexander Kavkin, a Moscow regional police investigator assigned to the case, declined to comment on the report.

Oleg Mitvol, deputy head of the Federal Inspection Service for Natural Resources Use, said the attack was linked with Beketov's attempts to stop Khimki Mayor Vladimir Strelchenko from building a highway to Sheremetyevo Airport through a forest, Interfax reported.

In an interview published Monday in the government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta, Strelchenko said the attack on Beketov was an attempt to discredit him.