Correspondent killed in Grozny rocket attack

November 5, 1999
His Excellency Boris Yeltsin
President of the Russian Federation
Via Fax: 011 7 095 206 5173 / 206 6277

Your Excellency,

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is gravely concerned by the death of Supian Ependiyev, a veteran correspondent for the independent Chechnya weekly Groznenskiy Rabochiy, in a recent rocket attack on the Chechen capital, Grozny

On the evening of October 27, several rockets hit a crowded outdoor market in central Grozny. About an hour after the attack, Ependiyev went to the scene to cover the carnage for his paper. As Ependiyev was leaving the site, a new round of rockets fell about 200 meters from the bazaar. He suffered severe shrapnel wounds, and died in a Grozny hospital the next morning.

In the past few weeks, heavy Russian artillery fire has forced Groznenskiy Rabochiy to move its editorial operations to Nazran, in neighboring Ingushetia. The paper is currently being distributed free of charge to thousands of Chechen refugees now staying in Ingushetia.

Ependiyev was one of two correspondents who remained in Grozny to cover the Russian military campaign against Islamist militants in Chechnya. Until his death, the reporter had been making the dangerous trek between Grozny and Nazran weekly to file stories.

As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to defending the rights of our colleagues around the world, CPJ is greatly troubled by the apparent Russian military disregard for the security of journalists covering the conflict in Chechnya. In particular, we are alarmed by what seems to be a deliberate strategy of targeting civilian areas. Such a strategy places journalists, who are duty-bound to cover war casualties, at even graver risks in conflict zones.

We urge you to uphold your international obligation to ensure that all journalists in the northern Caucasus may practice their profession freely and safely.

Thank you for your attention to these urgent matters. We await your comments.


Ann K. Cooper
Executive Director

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His Excellency Boris Yeltsin
President of the Russian Federation
Via Fax: 011 7 095 206 5173 / 206 6277