The founder of a newspaper that investigated government corruption has been shot dead outside the newspaper’s office in Russia‘s North Caucasus region, police say.
A gunman shot Gadzhimurat Kamalov as he was leaving the offices of the newspaper Chernovik in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan province, shortly before midnight on Thursday, the regional interior ministry said.
Police said Kamalov was shot eight times and pronounced dead on the way to hospital.
The New-York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said journalists at Chernovik, known for reporting on corruption in the provincial administration, had been “routinely persecuted for their work”.
“The assassination of Gadzhimurat Kamalov is a massive loss for independent journalism in the North Caucasus, Russia’s most dangerous place for reporters,” the advocacy group’s regional co-ordinator, Nina Ognianova, said in a statement.
Russian journalists who investigate corruption face serious risks, particularly in the provinces, where authorities are less likely to face scrutiny over attacks on journalists.
The predominantly Muslim Dagestan is plagued by violence stemming from an Islamist insurgency rooted in the 1990s separatist wars in neighbouring Chechnya as well as conflicts over business and political power.
There have been 19 unsolved murders of journalists in Russia since 2000, including the 2006 killing of the Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya, according to the CPJ.
It lists Russia as eighth on its “impunity index”, a list of states where journalists are killed regularly and governments fail to solve the crimes.