Shabalin, assistant political editor of the St. Petersburg daily Nevskoye Vremya, and Titov, a photographer for the paper, were reported missing in Chechnya. They left Nazran on February 27, 1995, for their fifth trip to the breakaway republic since fighting there began in 1992.
According Nevskoye Vremya staff, the journalists were due back on March 4 but have not been heard from since and are presumed dead. Shabalin and Titov may not have had official accreditation from Russian authorities to enter Chechnya.
Colleagues at Nevskoye Vremya heard in September 1995 that the bodies of two journalists had been found in February 1995 in the Achoi Region of the republic. However, there were no documents or photographs confirming the bodies’ identities. On June 16, 1995, Nevskoye Vremya correspondent Sergei Ivanov traveled to Chechnya to look for Shabalin and Titov, but he never returned and has not been heard from since.
Alla Manilova, editor-in-chief of Nevskoye Vremya, told CPJ in March 2003 that Shabalin, Titov, and Ivanov are still missing, and that she heard rumors in the mid-1990s that Chechen rebels had killed Shabalin and Titov.