IFJ Fears New Targeting after Russian Journalist is Found Strangled

The International Federation of Journalists today called the Russian authorities to carry out a swift and independent investigation after journalist Ilyas Shurpayev was found dead in his apartment. The IFJ says that the case appears to indicate a new targeted attack on media in a country where dozens of journalists have been killed over the years with none of the killers brought to justice.

“We are shocked by the circumstances of Shurpayev’s death”, said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White, “and we fear that this has all of the hallmarks of a targeted attack on a journalist who was reporting from the frontline of conflicts on Russia’s borders.”

Shurpayev, a 32 year old TV reporter working for the state channel Pervyï Kanal, was found dead early this morning, strangled with a belt, in his apartment in Moscow. A fire first started in the house at 1 am, which was extinguished before it could spread. Firemen found the body of Shurpayev in the flat.

According to a spokesman for the Russian Prosecutor General's Office, an investigation for murder had been launched.

“We hope that the investigators will be able to establish if Shurpayev’s death is connected with his journalistic activities, in which case we call for justice”, said White. “We have seen too many cases of impunity over killed journalists in the past years in Russia and this new, tragic case is an occasion to show that crimes against media professionals are taken seriously”.

The reporter often worked in the Caucasus and in particular in the republics of Dagestan, South Ossetia and in Georgia's secessionist republic of Abkhazia. Just before his death, Shurpayev wrote on his blog that a newspaper in Dagestan censored his article and instructed the staff not to mention his name.

The IFJ has asked its Russian affiliate the Russian Union of Journalists to follow this case closely. “Our Russian colleagues have documented more than 200 media deaths over the years,” said White. “With official actions still awaited in the case of Anna Politikovskya and others we are anxious that this latest death is thoroughly investigated.”

For more information contact the IFJ at + 32 2 235 2200

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide