The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the killing of Magomed Yevloyev, a Russian web site owner critical of the government who was shot in the head by police, and called for an independent investigation into his death.
Yevloyev, who died on Sunday after being shot while in police custody, was the owner of www.ingushetiya.ru, which reports on allegations of abuses, abductions and killings in Ingushetia in Russia's north Caucasus.
"The death of a leading journalist in police custody raises red flags, especially in light of the incredible violence against Russian journalists in the past two decades," said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. "Only a full and independent investigation into Magomed's death can establish what really happened while he was in police custody and why he was arrested in the first place."
Police said Yevloyev was shot "by accident" after lunging for an officer's gun. Yevloyev's relatives and friends do not agree with the official explanation and say that the shooting was an attempt to frighten and divide the public and human rights movement in Ingushetia. According to reports, the Russian prosecutor's office has launched an investigation into the killing.
Police broke up protests held during the journalist's funeral today, according to reports.
Yevloyev's site is one of the few independent sources of information and authorities tried to shut it down earlier this year.
Violence against Russian journalists has been widespread. At least 291 journalists have been killed or have disappeared in the country since 1990 with only a handful of perpetrators being convicted.
"Unfortunately, as we saw in the tragic killing of Anna Politkovskaya and so many of our other colleagues, intimidation, threats and violence have been used to silence Russian journalists," White said. "For years we have been calling on the Russian government to fight impunity and protect press freedom by prosecuting those who target journalists."
For more information contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide