Russian state-television journalist strangled and stabbed to death
A Russian state-television journalist was found dead, strangled with a belt and stabbed, in his Moscow apartment on Friday, authorities said. ( dpa )
Firefighters discovered the body of Illyas Shurpayev, a journalist for state-run Channel One television, after assailants apparently set fire to his apartment early Friday, news agency Interfax quoted prosecutors as saying.
Russian media reports said Shurpayev apparently knew his killers because he called down to the concierge in his building and asked for two young men to be let in.
Prosecutors said they had opened a criminal investigation into the case and were looking at the possibility that the killing might be related to his work.
Shurpayev, 32, moved to Moscow from his native Dagestan, a violence-ridden republic neighbouring Chechnya, but he continued to report in the surrounding unsettled regions of the North Caucasus host to corruption and frequent clashes between authorities and separatist rebels.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Friday called for Russia to conduct a thorough investigation into the case, saying the journalist appeared to be a target of media repression.
"We fear that this has all the hallmarks of a targeted attack on a journalist who was reporting from the frontlines of conflict on Russia's borders," the IFJ's head Aidan White said in a statement from Brussels.
Though Shurpayev was not known as an investigative reporter, an entry on his blog hours before his death refers to comments he made about the struggle between journalist and management at a local Dagestani newspaper.
"Now I am a dissident," read the first sentence of the blog on the popular website LiveJournal.
Shurpayev complained of being at the top of a blacklist of journalists who were no longer allowed to publish for the newspaper, the news portal Caucasian Knot reported three days before his death.
A dozen journalists have died reporting in Russia since 2000 in contract-style killings allegedly for their attempts to delve into official corruption.
Rights campaigners accuse the Russian state of failing to prosecute these crime.
They say Russia is experiencing a demise in media freedoms and steadily becoming one of the most dangerous countries for journalists to exercise their profession.