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Two Russian journalists found murdered

Latest update : 2008-03-22

Two Russian TV journalists, including a reporter known for his coverage of the Caucasus, were killed in separate incidents on Friday. The murderers tried to cover-up the killing by starting a fire. (Story: R. Easey)

Two Russian television journalists were killed in separate incidents in Moscow and the southern Dagestan region on Friday, news reports and police said.
"Channel One correspondent Ilyas Shurpayev has been killed in Moscow.... He leaves behind a five-year-old daughter. We mourn for him and express our deepest condolences to his relatives," Channel One said in a statement.
ITAR-TASS news agency quoted an investigator as saying: "Ilyas Shurpayev was found dead in an apartment that he rented.... According to identity papers found on him, he is a correspondent with Channel One."
Investigators have opened a murder inquiry, the news agency reports said.
Interfax quoted a police official as saying the most likely version for the murder was personal but added that investigators were also looking into possible links to his professional activities.
Russian journalists, particularly those working in the Caucasus, are often the targets of attacks. Russia regularly ranks as one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to work as a journalist.
Shurpayev's body was found to have multiple knife wounds and he had a belt wrapped around his neck. A fire was started in an attempt to cover up the murder, Interfax news agency cited a law enforcement source as saying.
Kirill Klemeinov, a Channel One television manager, confirmed the death of 32-year-old Shurpayev to AFP, saying: "Unfortunately, it's a fact. Ilyas is no longer with us." He did not give further details.
Shurpayev was the author of numerous reports about the mostly Muslim North Caucasus mountain region in southern Russia, where there are frequent clashes between security forces and local rebels.
"His CV includes all the hotspots in the Caucasus.... And very often he would work in practically combat-like conditions," said the statement issued by Channel One.
Shurpayev, who was of Dagestani origin, had also worked for NTV, another state-controlled channel Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, a Russian province in the Caucasus, before working in Moscow.
According to preliminary results of the medical inquiry, Shurpayev died as a result of strangulation with a belt, RIA Novosti news agency reported, citing a police official.
The fire brigade was called to his home at around 1:00 am (2200 GMT on Thursday). After extinguishing a small fire, they found his body in a bed, ITAR-TASS quoted a police official saying.
A few hours before his death, Shurpayev left a blog post on the popular site about a dispute between the journalists and the founder of a local newspaper in Dagestan.
His last television report on Channel One earlier this month was about the reconstruction of an Orthodox monastery in Abkhazia, a pro-Russian separatist region of Georgia, RIA Novosti news agency said.
In Dagestan, a spokesman for the local interior ministry said journalist Gadzhy Abashilov was killed by unidentified gunman in his car in Makhachkala, the region's main city.
His driver was seriously wounded in the incident and rushed to a hospital, spokesman Mark Tolshinski told AFP by telephone.
Abashilov, who headed Dagestan television, a local branch of the state-controlled Rosiya network, was gunned down in central Makhachkala, he added but would not link the two killings.
Russian prosecutor Yuri Chaika said late Friday he would personally oversee the investigation of Abashilov's death and send police officers from Moscow to Makhachkala, Russian news agencies said.
Abashilov, who was 58, had also been deputy information minister in the Dagestani government in the past.

Date created : 2008-03-21