MOSCOW (Reuters) - The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) said on Wednesday it was extremely concerned by the beating of three employees in Moscow and said it had approached the Russian Foreign Ministry for help in the matter.
Three BBC staff members were beaten in separate attacks over the last few weeks: one was attacked by assailants shouting racial abuse, one had his nose broken and another sustained a head injury, the BBC said in a statement.
“We are extremely concerned at this unusual spate of attacks in Moscow,” the BBC said. “Although we have no evidence to suggest that the attacks were motivated by the victims’ employment by the BBC, we are exploring that possibility.”
“We have asked the Russian Foreign Ministry for assistance in ensuring staff safety,” the BBC said. “We are reviewing our safety procedures in Moscow in the light of these events.”
The BBC said Davlat Qudrat, a Russian citizen working for the Central Asian service, was assaulted in the Moscow metro on November 24 by assailants who shouted racial abuse. His attackers were later arrested by the police, it said.
Mikhail Denisov, who works in the BBC’s Russian service, was attacked by his home on November 25 by two attackers who broke his nose. His bank cards and a large sum of money was taken.
Yevgeny Demchenko, a Russian service correspondent, was attacked while travelling home from work and sustained head injuries which needed stitches, the BBC said.
A spokesman for Russia’s foreign ministry declined to comment. A spokesman for the Moscow police could not confirm the attacks had taken place.
Relations between Moscow and London this year sank to the lowest level for a decade after a row over the extradition of a Russian man suspected of being involved in the murder of emigre Alexander Litvinenko.
Britain and Russia each expelled four diplomats in the spat.
Ever since, Britain has been presented as an enemy by top security service officials and nationalist political parties.
Activists from the pro-Kremlin youth group, Nashi, appeared outside the BBC’s Moscow office on Monday following a rally on Red Square to celebrate the election victory of President Vladimir Putin’s party the December 2 parliamentary election.
The election was criticised by European nations and the United States which called for an inquiry into claims that the vote was marred by cheating to favour Putin’s party.
The Nashi group came to prominence last year when it hounded the British ambassador for months after he attended an anti-Kremlin conference.
Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by Philippa Fletcher