Final Word from Thursday, November 25, 2004





Newly elected Senator Karel Schwarzenberg's ownership of Respekt investigative weekly has always been political. Why else would someone of his stature subsidize a lossmaking venture? The paper has a political agenda most people can agree with - anti-corruption, anti-cronyism - but it's still an agenda. In Russia, such troublemakers are dealt with by killing their editors (Forbes) or winning trumped-up lawsuits meant to put them out of business (Kommersant). There's some overlap with the CR. Alfa-Bank, which has targeted Kommersant, is run by a Czech, Petr Šmída. And some Russian-like tactics have already been used against Respekt, including dubious lawsuits by politicians and their corporate cronies, and physical intimidation against its editor. If Respekt's importance grows because of its owner's new Senate seat, so might the attacks against it.

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