New York, July 26, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the murder of Yevgeny Gerasimenko, a correspondent for the independent weekly Saratovsky Rasklad, who was found dead this morning in his apartment in Saratov in southeastern Russia, according to local press reports.
Saratov Department of Interior Spokesman Denis Zheltov said forensic evidence indicated that Gerasimenko had been killed around 1 a.m., the local television channel GTRK Saratov reported. Gerasimenko’s mother found the journalist with a plastic bag over his head and multiple bruises on his body. Police found no signs of a violent entry in the apartment, but Gerasimenko’s computer was missing, local reports said.
Gerasimenko had been investigating the corporate takeover of a local commercial enterprise, SaratovskyRasklad Editor-in-Chief Vladimir Spiryagin told the United Volga news Web site. Spiryagin declined to identify the firm because he had not yet discussed details with police investigators, he told United Volga. Spiryagin said Gerasimenko was supposed to file a story on the corporate takeover on July 18 but missed the deadline—something the editor said was very unusual for Gerasimenko.
Colleagues told CPJ that Gerasimenko’s murder could be connected to his work. Saratovsky Rasklad often publishes business and political analyses and investigations. The Saratov prosecutor’s office has opened a criminal case but has not commented on possible motives, press reports said.
“Russia’s roster of deadly censorship continues to grow with no sign of relenting,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “In light of authorities’ record of impunity in journalist killings, CPJ calls on prosecutors to pursue every lead and conduct a detailed and transparent probe into the brutal murder of our colleague Yevgeny Gerasimenko. Considering his recent investigative work, the professional motive in his killing should be investigated thoroughly.”
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