In Russia, last key suspect charged in 2000 murder of Igor Domnikov

New York, March 11, 2015–Moscow investigators today charged former regional governor Sergei Dorovskoi in the 2000 attack on Novaya Gazeta journalist Igor Domnikov that led to the journalist’s death, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the move and calls on authorities to move quickly and thoroughly to resolve the case.

“Sergei Dorovskoi’s prosecution is the key ingredient toward complete justice in the murder of Igor Domnikov,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “We call on Russia’s prosecuting authorities to move quickly and prioritize this case. Domnikov’s family, colleagues, and the global journalist community have waited 15 years to see justice fully served.”

According to a statement released today by Russia’s Investigative Committee, the federal agency responsible for inquiries into the country’s most serious crimes, Dorovskoi was charged on separate counts as an “instigator” of the crime and inciting the attack. In the statement, authorities said that Dorovskoi “convinced his friend Pavel Sopot to attack” Domnikov and inflict “grave harm to his health.” Sopot was convicted in 2013 of inciting the murder by recruiting gang members to carry out the attack. Novaya Gazeta, which carried out its own investigation over the years, said it believed Sopot was only the middleman and had taken his orders from Dorovskoi.

Dorovskoi has denied any involvement in the murder.

The statute of limitations in Russia in this case expires on May 12, 2015. Under Article 78 of Russia’s criminal code, authorities have until then to make a verdict in the case against Dorovskoi and, if he is found guilty, to rule on appeal, Maria Andreyeva, a lawyer representing Domnikov’s widow, Margarita Domnikova, told CPJ.

In today’s statement, investigators said articles Domnikov wrote about Dorovskoi and his work were a motive for the attack. In early 2000, the journalist published a series of articles in which he criticized authorities for what he perceived to be nepotism, corruption, and an inability to carry out effective anti-crime and agricultural policies in the Lipetsk region.

Domnikov was attacked by an assailant outside his Moscow apartment in May 2000, according to news reports. The journalist was hit repeatedly on the head and left unconscious in a pool of blood. He died two months later.

Russia ranks 10th on CPJ’s 2014 Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are slain and their killers go free.