Russian journalist Dmitry Popkov shot dead in Siberia

by ECPMF staff

Russian journalist and anti-corruption activist Dmitry Popkov was reportedly found dead close to his home in the Siberian town of Minusinsk on the night of 24 May.

The 42-year-old was shot dead by an unidentified perpetrator, according to Russian and international media reports quoting the Investigative Committee in the Krasnoyarsk region.

ECPMF Managing Director Lutz Kinkel says:

Russia is a perilous place for journalists doing their job. Popkov is already the second journalist being killed this year. The Russian government must not only thoroughly investigate these murders, it must take decisive action to protect journalists in the country."

Popkov was editor-in-chief of the newspaper Ton-M. After a brief tenure in the city council, Popkov was stripped of his position in 2012. Two years later he co-founded the local independent newspaper, which is well-known for its fight against abuse of power and corruption. "We write what other people keep quiet about," is the newspaper’s slogan.

In the last couple of years, the offices had been repeatedly subjected to anonymous threats as well as pressure from the authorities. In August 2016, Popkov wrote in the Ton-M editorial section that the newspaper was "accustomed to being a pain in the neck for many officials who are trying to [silence us] in every possible way."

Cop car 900X600 "Russia is a country where too many journalists have been murdered for their work while their killers walk free," says the CPJ. (Photo: Public domain)

High danger level in Russia

"The climate of impunity makes Russia one of the most dangerous countries to do journalism," says Hannah Machlin, Project Manager at Index on Censorship. 

Nina Ohnianova, Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), states that the organisation calls "on the Russian authorities to conduct a thorough, unbiased, and effective investigation into the brutal slaying of Dmitry Popkov and bring those responsible to justice. Russia is a country where too many journalists have been murdered for their work while their killers walk free. This toxic cycle of impunity must be reversed once and for all."

The local Investigative Committee of the Krasnoyarsk Krai area has said in a statement that a probe had been launched into the killing and that the journalist's work was being treated as a potential motive for the murder.

In another recent case, from 19 April, the 73-year-old journalist Nikolai Andrushchenko, a reporter for Novy Peterburg, was killed in St. Petersburg. He died after being beaten by unknown attackers.

Accoding to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), two media workers have been killed and three jailed so far this year in relation to their journalism in Russia.

Get help

If you are a journalist fearing for your life because of your work, you may seek legal help from the ECPMF or apply for the ECPMF's Journalists in Residence programme, which provides temporary shelter for European journalists under threat.

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