Prominent Web journalist shot dead in Russian custody

A well-known journalist in one of Russia's most restive regions was shot just moments after he was arrested by Russian authorities on Sunday.

Magomed Yevloyev

Magomed Yevloyev

A well-known Web site owner in one of Russia's most restive regions was shot to death after he was arrested by authorities on Sunday, according to Russian news reports.

Magomed Yevloyev was whisked away by Russian Interior Ministry officials in Nazran, Ingushetia, shortly after he returned from a trip to Moscow. He was shot in the temple.

Yevloyev ran a Web site, focused on news from Ingushetia, an area sandwiched between Georgia's North Ossetia region to the west and Chechnya to the east. A court banned his Web site in August, calling it "extremist," according to a report by Novosti, the Russian News and Information Agency.

Authorities have suggested that Yevloyev may have resisted arrest and was killed by accident.

The group Reporters Without Borders called for a full investigation.

"We are outraged by the death of Yevloyev, who repeatedly demonstrated his courage and determination by reporting independent news in Ingushetia, although he and his family were harassed and threatened," the group said on its Web site.

Ingushetia, a predominantly Muslim region, is a semi-autonomous region that has traditionally had close ties with Russia. Yevloyev had been known as an opposition figure who posted controversial material on the Web site, which drew threats.

In October 2007, Yevloyev accused Ingushetia's president Murat Zyazikov of trying to assassinate him. An editor at Yevloyev's Web site left Ingushetia last month for Europe after fearing for her life, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Yevloyev's death adds to a growing number of journalists who have met violent deaths believed to be linked to their reporting of issues deemed sensitive by Russia.

Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist known for her human rights reporting on Chechnya, was shot in her apartment building in October 2006. Her death remains unsolved. In July 2004, the editor of Forbes Russia, Paul Klebnikov, was shot four times, dying soon after from his injuries.

Yevloyev's death comes soon after Russia's military campaign to eject Georgian troops from South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two renegade areas technically belonging to Georgia. At least three journalists were killed covering that conflict, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
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