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Contract Killings


Monday, 15 October 2007

Contracted Killings in Russia

Igor Domnikov, 42, died in a Moscow hospital on 16 July, 2000, two months after being bludgeoned with a hammer in the entryway of his apartment building in Moscow. Domnikov covered culture and education issues for the biweekly newspaper "Novaya gazeta." Domnikov's colleagues say his killer may have mistaken him for another "Novaya gazeta" reporter who had been threatened after investigating corruption in the oil industry. The two reporters lived in the same building.

Sergei Novikov, the owner of the independent Vesna radio station in Smolensk, was shot dead as he entered his apartment building on July 26, 2000. Investigators describe his murder as a contract-style killing. Vesna had broadcast claims of corruption in the regional administration on several occasions. Novikov was 36 years old.

Iskandar Khatloni, the Moscow correspondent for RFE/RL's Tajik Service, was attacked in his apartment on September 21, 2000, by unidentified assailants who hit him in the head with an axe. Khatloni, 46, died later that night a Moscow hospital. He was writing a report on human rights abuses by Russian forces in Chechnya when he was killed.

On October 3, 2000, unknown gunmen killed Sergei Ivanov, the 30-year-old director of the television company Lada-TV, in a courtyard outside his apartment building in the Volga River city Tolyatti, an industrial center that is home to one of Russia's largest automaker, AvtoVAZ. Lada-TV was the largest independent television company in Tolyatti and was influential on the local political scene.

Adam Tepsurgayev, 24, bled to death after Chechen-speaking gunmen shot him in the thigh and groin on November 21, 2000. He had been watching television at a neighbor's house in Alkhan-Kala, a village close to Grozny. Tepsurgayev had worked as a fixer and driver for foreign journalists during the first Chechen war. Later, he had worked as a freelancer for the Reuters news agency.

Eduard Markevich, the editor and publisher of "Novyy reft," a local newspaper in the town of Reftinskiy, in Sverdlovsk Oblast, was found dead on September 18, 2001. He had been shot in the back. "Novyy reft" was often critical of local officials and Markevich, 29, had reported receiving threatening telephone calls. In 1998, two unknown assailants had broken into his apartment and beaten him up in front of his pregnant wife.

Natalya Skryl is currently the only woman on the list. A business reporter with "Nashe vremya" in the southwestern city of Rostov-na-Donu, the 29-year-old Skryl was investigating a power struggle over a metallurgical plant when she was attacked and struck multiple times with a heavy object. She died the following day, on March 9, 2002.

Two journalists from a single newspaper in the industrial city of Tolyatti were killed over the course of 18 months. On April 29, 2002, 32-year-old Valery Ivanov, the editor in chief of "Tolyattinskoye obozreniye" and a deputy in the local legislative assembly, was shot eight times in the head at point-blank range. According to a witness, his killer used a pistol with a silencer and fled the scene on foot. His close friend and successor, 31-year-old Aleksei Sidorov, was killed on October 9, 2003, after being stabbed in the chest with an ice pick. Both men were killed just outside their homes.

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