Court acquits suspect in Togliatti editor's murder
October 12, 2004 12:00 PM ET
New York, October 12, 2004—A Russian district court judge yesterday acquitted a factory welder in the October 2003 murder of Tolyattinskoye Obozreniye Editor Aleksei Sidorov. The Committee to Protect Journalists, which questioned whether the prosecution was aimed at the true killer, called today for a new and more credible investigation.
Ruling in Komsomolsky District Court in Togliatti yesterday, Judge Andrei Kirillov found that 29-year-old Yevgeny Maininger was not involved in Sidorov's murder and said the prosecution's case was untenable, the independent Moscow daily Kommersant reported.
Aleksei Sidorov's father said the family was pleased that the acquittal ended what they considered to be a flawed investigation. "The investigation, instead of seeking out the real killer of my son, tried to dump everything on this innocent person," said Vladimir Sidorov, according to local press reports. "We will do everything possible to ensure that [authorities] start a normal investigation."
Karen Nersisian, the defense lawyer representing the Sidorov family, said he will work to have the case transferred to a higher court in Moscow, according to local press reports.
Sidorov, 31, was the second Tolyattinskoye Obozreniye editor murdered in 18 months, following the April 2002 shooting of Valery Ivanov. No one has been convicted in either case.
"Yesterday's acquittal reflects weaknesses in the police investigation and the evidence presented by the prosecution," CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. "We call on President Vladimir Putin to ensure thorough investigations and transparent prosecutions of the true killers in the Tolyattinskoye Obozreniye slayings."
Eleven journalists have been murdered in contract-style slayings since Russian President Vladimir Putin took office in 2000. No one has been brought to justice in any of the slayings.
Background Ivanov, 32, was killed on April 29, 2002 after being shot eight times in the head at point-blank range while entering his car just outside his home. Eighteen months later, on October 9, 2003, Sidorov was stabbed several times in the chest as he approached his apartment building. He died in his wife's arms after she heard his call for help and came to the building entrance.
Local Togliatti police detained Maininger on October 12 and charged him with Sidorov's murder on October 21 after he allegedly confessed to killing the editor because of a brief street argument. Maininger later withdrew his confession saying that police coerced him into it. Nobody has been implicated in Ivanov's murder and no progress has been made in the investigation.
Journalists at Tolyattinskoye Obozreniye are convinced that the two killings came in retaliation for the newspaper's investigative work.
A CPJ delegation that traveled to Togliatti in June to meet with the colleagues and families of the murdered editors, as well as with local officials investigating the crimes, found numerous weaknesses in the prosecution's case against Maininger.
Russian journalist Mikhail Romanov found guilty of ‘abuse of freedom of information’ and ‘false’ news
August 2, 2019 4:22 PM ET
Washington, D.C., August 2, 2019--Journalist Mikhail Romanov, a correspondent with the weekly Yakutsk Vecherniy, was found guilty on July 25 by the city court of Yakutsk, in eastern Russia, on charges of “abuse of freedom of information by publishing false information that poses a threat to the public,” according...
Ingushetia court orders journalist Rashid Maysigov to remain in pre-trial detention for two months
July 22, 2019 1:00 PM ET
Washington, D.C., July 22, 2019 -- Authorities in the Republic of Ingushetia must release journalist Rashid Maysigov unconditionally and investigate allegations that he was tortured in custody, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today....
Editor Abdulmumin Gadzhiev detained in Russia on terrorism charges
June 14, 2019 1:44 PM ET
Washington, D.C., June 14, 2019--Authorities in the Russian republic of Dagestan should immediately drop the charges against Makhachkala-based journalist Abdulmumin Gadzhiev and release him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today....
Police detain, allegedly beat Russian investigative journalist Ivan Golunov
June 7, 2019 1:40 PM ET
New York, June 7, 2019 -- Russian authorities should immediately drop all charges against investigative journalist Ivan Golunov, release him, and investigate allegations that he was beaten in police custody, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today....
Russian video blogger Vadim Kharchenko attacked, injured in Krasnodar
June 4, 2019 5:57 PM ET
New York, June 4, 2019--Russian authorities should conduct a swift and credible investigation into the brutal attack on video blogger Vadim Kharchenko in the southwestern city of Krasnodar and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today....