A prominent Russian journalist is in stable condition after being stabbed in the neck by a man who bypassed security to enter her office on the 14th floor of a high-rise building. The incident is said to be emblematic of increasing violence towards journalists in Russia.
Tatyana Felgenhauer, deputy editor of the Ekho Moskvy radio station, was attacked on Oct 23 at 12:45 p.m. in Moscow. According to Russian news aggregator Meduza, the attacker entered the building where Felgenhauer worked and sprayed a gas cannister into a security guard's face, allowing him to take the elevator up to Ekho Moskvy's offices.
"The attacker didn’t scream anything. Everything was quiet and he was silent. He walked up, grabbed her, and delivered the blow," said the radio station's other deputy editor, Sergey Butman. He says the attacker was immediately detained by security guards, managing to inflict a small wound on one of them before he was subdued.
Initial reports regarding the attack were unclear. An earlier report by Meduza cites a tabloid agency falsely claiming there were two attackers. A least three prominent and government-friendly news agencies reported that the attacker knew Felgenhauer and that he attacked her for "personal reasons." Ekho Moskvy reporters quickly denied that Felgenhauer and the attacker had any sort of relationship.
The attacker has now been identified as 48-year-old Boris Grits. According to The Guardian, Grits has dual Russian and Israeli citizenship and had his Israeli driver's license on him at the time of the attack.
A blog written by Grits reveals that he believed Felgenhauer was communicating with him in his mind. Leaked media footage of his interrogation confirms that he had never had contact with the journalist but believed she had contacted him telepathically during the past five years.
Meduza claims that Grits had a highly-trained academic background. He reportedly graduated from Moscow State Pedagogical University with training to teach physics in 1991. Two years later, he moved to Israel, where he earned his doctorate degree in physics and math. He's since been connected to the University of Jerusalem, the University of California system, the Russian Hydrometeorological Center, a college in Beersheba, Israel and Tel Aviv University.
Grits had difficulty finding work in recent years, and reportedly filed a complaint with the UN Human Rights Commission after being denied a Canadian truck-driver's license in the summer of 2017.
"I’m certain that what’s been happening to me for the past five years is evidence of serious problems in Israeli society," Grits wrote on the internet.
Alexei Venediktov, Ekho Moskvy's editor-in-chief, said that Felgenhauer was put into an induced coma after having an operation lasting more than one hour. He says that the injury is not life-threatening, The Guardian reports.
Venediktov, who has himself faced backlash as an Russian independent journalist, says he has not ruled out that more than one person might have been involved in the attack.
"He knew things he shouldn’t have known," Venediktov said. "How did he know Tanya would still be here? By the time of the attack, she would normally have left. There are many questions."