Russian Journalist Dies After Police Beating, Two Weeks in Coma

A Russian journalist died Wednesday after being severely beaten by a police officer in the Siberian city of Tomsk, investigators and his editor said. The officer was arrested.

Konstantin Popov, who worked for Tomskaya Nedelya weekly, died in a hospital after almost two weeks in a coma, the publication's editor-in-chief, Yulia Ivanova, said.

She said Popov, 47, was "horrendously maimed" in a police cell where he was taken in early January to sober up. He was beaten and then shot in the genital area, she said.

"Even the surgeons were shocked by what they saw," Ivanova told The Associated Press by telephone.

She said the killing was not related to Popov's reporting for the paper. "This could happen to anyone," she said. "It does not matter who you are these days."

Tomsk investigators confirmed that Popov died after suffering "serious injuries."

The officer, Alexei Mitayev, has been arrested and charged with assault and abuse of office, the Tomsk investigative committee said in a statement.

At least 16 journalists have been killed in Russia since 2000. Most of them had written reports critical of authorities.

The U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists named Russia the world's third deadliest country for the news media last year.

Several Russian police officers have recently been charged with murder, beatings and other abuses. Public concern over police abuse has grown after a drunken Moscow precinct chief gunned down two people and wounded seven at a supermarket in April.