Second editor killed in 10 days as fear grips Moscow

The Independent

Second editor killed in 10 days as fear grips Moscow

By Andrew Osborn in Moscow

19 July 2004

Russia’s jittery foreign press corps was plunged into mourning yesterday
for the second time in as many weeks after another foreign journalist was
murdered in Moscow.

The killing of Paila Peloyan, the Armenian editor of the Russian-language
monthly, Armenian Lane, comes barely a week after Paul Klebnikov, the US
editor of the Russian version of Forbes magazine, was gunned down in cold
blood. Nobody has been arrested for his murder.

Mr Peloyan’s body was found dumped by the side of the city’s outer ring
road or MKAD far from the city centre on Saturday morning.

He had multiple stab wounds in the chest and had been savagely beaten; his
skull was cracked and his face covered in blood and bruises.

Information about his last movements is sketchy, though he is known to
have died between two and three o’clock on Saturday morning and his body
lay undiscovered for at least four hours.

Investigators say they have crawled over the crime scene in order to try
to find out what happened and prosecutors have opened a criminal case into
the killing.

They are not ruling out the possibility that Mr Peloyan was murdered
because of his professional activity.

In contrast to the late Mr Klebnikov, however, Mr Peloyan’s work appears
relatively uncontroversial. While the dead American journalist made waves
by publicising the names of Russia’s wealthiest people and delving into
their often insalubrious financial affairs, Mr Peloyan’s magazine was an
arts publication.

Moscow’s Armenian diaspora, Armenian Lanecarried features about
literature, the arts and history and included prose and poetry from
Armenian writers. Nobody was answering the phones at the magazine’s Moscow
office yesterday.

That Mr Peloyan’s murder comes so soon after that of Mr Klebnikov is
likely to unsettle foreign and Russian journalists alike. Mr Klebnikov was
killed in a drive-by shooting by at least two gunmen and died in a hail of
bullets just yards from his office. His murder had all the hallmarks of a
contract killing.

An online news site, the Russia Journal, spoke yesterday of “an undeclared
war against media representatives” and claimed that Russian and foreign
journalists had become an endangered species in Moscow.

It said: “These two senseless killings have once again put the issue of
journalists’ safety in Russia back on the agenda and raised well-founded
concerns among representatives of the fourth estate.

“This is not because killing journalists is a rarity in Moscow or in
Russia at large but two murders of journalists in less than 10 days in a
city that is not at war is something unusual, even by Russian standards.”
The Russian media itself made far less of Mr Peloyan’s murder, possibly
because as an Armenian hailing from a part of the former Soviet Union once
ruled by the Russians, he would not be considered a bona fide foreigner
like Mr Klebnikov.

It is estimated that two million Armenians live in Russia and the two
countries have a close relationship going back hundreds of years.
Officials at the Armenian embassy in Moscow said that they were profoundly
shocked by Mr Peloyan’s murder. “Naturally we learnt of this information
with great regret,” Armen Gevondyan, the embassy press secretary, told
Interfax news agency.

“We are taking all the measures we can together with Russia’s law
enforcement authorities to ascertain the circumstances of Mr Peloyan’s
death.” Mr Peloyan is the 16th journalist to be murdered in Russia since
2000 when Vladimir Putin assumed the presidency. The US-based Committee to
Protect Journalists says the country is one of the deadliest places to be
a reporter. It addressed an open letter to Mr Putin after Mr Klebnikov’s
killing, complaining about “the climate of lawlessness and impunity”.

“Cases [of journalists being killed] have not been properly investigated
or prosecuted, a testament to the ongoing lawlessness in Russia and your
failure to reform the country’s weak and politicised criminal justice
system,” it said.

JOURNALISTS MURDERED IN RUSSIA

Paul Klebnikov, editor of ‘Forbes’ magazine (Russian edition)

Age: 41

Died: 9 July 2004

Gunned down from passing car while leaving office in Moscow. Had exposed
workings of the country’s shadowy billionaires

Aleksei Sidorov, editor-in-chief of ‘Tolyatinskoye Obozreniye’

Age: 31

Died: 9 October 2003

Stabbed several times in the chest by unidentified assailant outside home.
Newspaper known for investigative reporting on organised crime, government
corruption and shady corporate deals

Valery Ivanov, editor-in-chief of ‘Tolyatinskoye Obozreniye’

Age: 32

Died: 29 April 2002

Shot eight times in head at point-blank range by assassin using a pistol
with a silencer. Murdered in Togliatti after paper exposed controversial
business deals linked to organised crime and government corruption

Natalya Skryl, business reporter, ‘Nashe Vremya’

Age: 29

Died: 9 March 2002

The reporter was repeatedly struck on the head while returning home in
Rostov-on-Don late at night. She was investigating a struggle for the
control of Tagmet, a local metallurgical plant. Just before her death, Ms
Skryl told colleagues that she had obtained sensitive information about
the story and was planning to publish it

Eduard Markevich, editor and publisher of ‘Novy Reft’

Age: 29

Died: 18 September 2001

Shot in the back. The paper, in the Sverdlovsk region, often criticised
local officials. Mr Markevich received threatening calls before the fatal
attack

Igor Domnikov, reporter and special projects editor of ‘Novaya Gazeta’

Age: 42

Died: 16 July 2000

Died in Moscow two months after being attacked by an unidentified
assailant and left lying in pool of blood in the entryway of his apartment
building. His colleagues and police were initially certain the attack was
related to his professional activity or that of the newspaper. It was also
believed for a while that the assailant mistook Mr Domnikov for a Novaya
Gazeta investigative reporter, Oleg Sultanov, who lived in the same
building. Mr Sultanov claimed to have received threats from the Federal
Security Service for reporting on corruption in the Russian oil industry

Natalya Skryl, business reporter, ‘Nashe Vremya’

Age: 29

Died: 9 March 2002

The reporter was repeatedly struck on the head while returning home in
Rostov-on-Don late at night. She was investigating a struggle for the
control of Tagmet, a local metallurgical plant. Just before her death, Ms
Skryl told colleagues that she had obtained sensitive information about
the story and was planning to publish it

Eduard Markevich, editor and publisher of ‘Novy Reft’

Age: 29

Died: 18 September 2001

Shot in the back. The paper, in the Sverdlovsk region, often criticised
local officials. Mr Markevich received threatening calls before the fatal
attack

Igor Domnikov, reporter and special projects editor of ‘Novaya Gazeta’

Age: 42

Died: 16 July 2000

Died in Moscow two months after being attacked by an unidentified
assailant and left lying in pool of blood in the entryway of his apartment
building. His colleagues and police were initially certain the attack was
related to his professional activity or that of the newspaper. It was also
believed for a while that the assailant mistook Mr Domnikov for a Novaya
Gazeta investigative reporter, Oleg Sultanov, who lived in the same
building. Mr Sultanov claimed to have received threats from the Federal
Security Service for reporting on corruption in the Russian oil industry

You may also like