The chief editor of an independent news portal in Siberia was assaulted on Monday night by two young men posing as delivery couriers, just hours after the agency's website was targeted by a DDoS attack, coworkers said.
The head of Taiga.Info, Yevgeny Mezdrikov, was hospitalized with a broken nose after two attackers gained their way into the news agency's office in the center of Novosibirsk and gave him several blows to the face.
Mezdrikov was released later that night after doctors dismissed a preliminary diagnosis of a possible concussion following an X-ray scan, Taiga.Info journalist Yaroslav Vlasov, told independent Dozh television.
Vlasov, who witnessed the incident and tried to interfere, said the attackers entered the office posing as couriers carrying boxes, walked up to the chief editor and asked whether he was, indeed, Yevgeny Mezdrikov, to which the chief editor assented.
"One of them lunged at Mezdrikov, the other beat me down when I tried to come to Yevgeny's defense," Vlasov told Interfax. "They hit Zhenya several times and ran off."
Earlier that day, the website of Taiga.Info crashed following a DDoS attack, the independent news portal reported. It remained unclear whether the two incidents were related.
A DDoS attack is a way of suspending a website by overloading its server with external requests, often causing it to break down.
Vlasov told Dozhd that the attack on the chief editor seemed connected to its critical reporting, with the agency founded in 2004 to cover the "main events and conflicts" in Siberia, according to its website. But he declined to speculate what specifically might have prompted the assault.
"It's hard to determine whether this was connected to a particular article or statement by the chief editor," Vlasov was quoted as saying.
Mezdrikov has headed Taiga.Info's editorial team since 2011.