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Reporter Dies After Brutal Police Beating

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

Konstantin Popov, who worked for the 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 Jan. 4 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 said.

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."

Popov was taken to the holding cell for drunks after neighbors complained that he was playing loud music in his apartment, Interfax reported.

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

The police officer, Alexei Mitayev, 26, has been arrested and charged with assault and abuse of office, the Tomsk branch of the Investigative Committee said in a statement. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

Mitayev has admitted to beating Popov and blamed a difficult home life, Interfax reported. He explained to investigators that he had families with two different women and three small children.

Mitayev has been dismissed from his job, and the incident has prompted several resignations in the police force, including by the police force's deputy head, who oversaw the city's holding cells for drunks.

Several 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.

(AP, MT)

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