Monday, March 25, 2013
As a journalist, he is made of the hardest stuff. Oleg Kashin, the critical reporter who barely survived a brutal attack by unknown assailants in 2010, has no intention of moderating his tone. Kashin is known as a fervid critic of Putin and sympathetic to the opposition. The talented journalist made a name for himself with his daring investigations into, among other things, Putin’s youth movement Nashi. On 3 May 2013, Kashin will be one of the guests at the Free Press Unlimited event ‘Pointers from Putin’ – Studying the principles of propaganda.

Crewman Kashin takes to writing
Although he has a degree in sea navigation, Kashin’s future proved to lay elsewhere. While still a student at the fleet academy, he turned out to have a very different talent: writing. In 2001, he started reporting for the Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda in his native city of Kaliningrad. At this newspaper, he distinguished himself with the unflinchingly critical tone of his articles. He then moved to Moscow, where he became a reporter for the popular daily Kommersant and the Russian version of Life Magazine. In the Russian capital, he grew to become a well-known investigative journalist on the strength of his reporting on various political youth movements, including Nashi, which has close ties with Putin’s party United Russia.

Assaulted with an iron bar
In his reports on Nashi, Kashin wrote that the movement incites young people to hatred and violence against political opponents. One time, after attending a Nashi rally, he was battered and held captive for hours by angry members of the youth movement. Following the publication of his investigative report, Kashin received threats from all kinds of pro-Putin groups, including the ‘Young Guard of United Russia’. However, this did not lead Kashin to moderate his tone – on the contrary. For example, in an article published in the Russian version of Forbes magazine, he accused the politician Vasily Yakemenko, who is also the founder of Nashi, of illicit sexual acts with an underage female member of Nashi. In 2010, he barely escaped with his life after being attacked with a length of iron by unknown assailants. They struck the reporter over 50 times: leaving him with, among other things, two fractures of the jaw and a fractured skull. The assault led to a public outcry – partly due to the fact that images of the attack were leaked and disseminated via YouTube. In 2011, Kashin collaborated on the documentary Putin’s Kiss, which deals with the youth movement Nashi. In the documentary, he describes the movement as a Putin propaganda machine that incites to hatred and violence.


Journalist or activist: How impartial is Kashin really?
Besides infuriating the members of Nashi, Kashin also regularly provokes the ire of the Putin establishment itself, frequently reporting on cronyism in the halls of the Kremlin. For example, he shed light on a number of the former KGB officer’s secret business interests. In addition, in 2010, he came in conflict with the governor Andrei Turchak after publishing an article on the politician that was far from flattering. His employers are not always happy with Kashin’s provocations of the Russian President. Recently, the editors of Kommersant dismissed the journalist after casting doubts on his impartiality. In The Moscow Times, an anonymous member of Kommersant’s staff was quoted as saying that ‘some people believe that you need to be other a journalist or a politician, but not something in between.’ Other people speculate that Kashin has become a victim of Putin’s offensive against critical journalists. But dismissed or not, one thing is clear: Kashin is a true die-hard who will remain unyielding to the end.

 
To register for the Amsterdam Press Freedom Day event visit www.persvrijheid.nl