New York, September 24, 2001—Eduard Markevich, editor and publisher of a local newspaper in the town of Reftinskiy, Sverdlovsk Region, was found dead last Tuesday night, according to press reports. He had been shot in the back.

Markevich, 29, edited Novyy Reft, a paper that was often critical of local officials. The journalist’s colleagues told the Itar-Tass news service that he had received threatening telephone phone calls prior to the attack.

“The murder of Eduard Markevich highlights, yet again, the vulnerability of independent journalists working in Russia’s provinces,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “We call on the local and federal authorities to investigate this case aggressively.”

A history of intimidation
This was not the first attack on Markevich, the Region-Inform news agency reported. In 1998, two unknown assailants broke into his apartment and severely beat him in front of his pregnant wife, but police never caught them.

Last year, Markevich was illegally detained for 10 days after the local prosecutor’s office charged him with defamation over a Novyy Reft article questioning the propriety of a lucrative government contract that gave a former deputy prosecutor the exclusive right to represent the Reftinskiy administration in court.

In May 2001, federal prosecutor general Vladimir Ustinov reprimanded the local prosecutor for violating Markevich’s constitutional rights.

Police have launched an investigation into Markevich’s murder, and CPJ will continue to monitor the case.