Russia: Top investigative journalist killed in air crash

New York, March 10, 2000 — Artyom Borovik, a legendary figure in Russian journalism, died in an air accident yesterday. He was one of four passengers and five crew members who were killed when their private plane crashed during takeoff from Moscow on a flight bound for the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. Officials are looking into technical explanations for the crash, but foul play has not been ruled out.

The other passengers on the plane were from Alliance Group, a Russian oil company. They included the chairman of the company, Ziya Bazhayev, who was of Chechen descent. Bazhayev was reported to have received death threats from Chechen rebels for refusing to supply them with weapons.

Borovik made his reputation in the late 1980s, when he was correspondent for the glasnost-era magazine, Ogonyok. His critical reporting on the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan revealed the gritty truth of the war to Russians, and established him as a warrior for openness in the media.

In the 1990s, Borovik continued to uncover the tough realities of Russian life and politics. He produced an independent, highly-rated investigative program called “Sovershenno Sekretno” (“Top Secret”), which ran for eight years before it was taken off state-run television in retaliation for a series of reports in a sister publication, Versiya, that accused several top Kremlin officials of corruption.

Borovik set a standard for investigative reporting matched by few of his colleagues today. He will be sorely missed by all who care about press freedom in Russia.