Aleksandrov, 44 and director of Tor, an independent television company
based in Slavyansk, Donetsk Region, in eastern Ukraine, was attacked on
the morning of July 3.
Unknown attackers assaulted Aleksandrov with baseball bats as he
entered Tor's offices, according to local news reports. Tor deputy
director Sergey Cherneta described the attack to the regional newspaper
"All of a sudden we heard...blows and screams, after that we heard a
moan. I ran downstairs....Our manager was lying in the lobby in a pool
of blood with his head cracked open. Two large baseball bats were left
Aleksandrov was rushed to the local city hospital, where he underwent
surgery. The journalist never regained consciousness and died from the
head injuries on the morning of July 7.
Aleksandrov's colleagues believe the murder was connected to his
television program, "Bez Retushi" (Without Censorship), which featured
investigative coverage of government corruption and organized crime.
The program often criticized Slavyansk municipal authorities.
Soon after the attack, Donetsk regional prosecutor Viktor Pshonka
launched an official investigation. The chief of the Donetsk
Administration of Internal Affairs, Gen. Vladimir Malyshev, stated that
revenge was the leading motive in the murder but did not elaborate.
Aleksandrov became well known in 1998, when prosecutors brought a
criminal case against him for insulting the honor and dignity of a
parliamentary deputy. The Slavyansk City Court initially found the
journalist guilty but later reviewed its decision after criticism from
Ukrainian journalists and international human rights organizations.
The deputy withdrew his defamation complaint against the journalist
last year. That removed the immediate legal threat but did not clear
Aleksandrov's name, since his conviction was still technically under
review. Claiming damage to his professional reputation, Aleksandrov
appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, where the case was
pending at the time of his murder.
In late August, law enforcement officials arrested an unnamed suspect,
according to local press reports. The officials claimed that
Aleksandrov's murder was a case of mistaken identity and was not
connected with his journalism.
A parliamentary investigative commission was established in September
to examine Aleksandrov's murder. In December, the commission voiced its
doubts about the validity of the "mistaken identity" theory and stated
that it knew who had really killed Aleksandrov, according to local
While the commission refused to forward this information to law
enforcement officials, it accused the Ukrainian Security Service of
falsifying evidence in the case.
In mid-December, the General Prosecutor's Office officially charged the
suspect detained in August, Yury Verdyuk, with Aleksdandrov's murder,
local and international sources reported. On December 27, the Donetsk
Regional Court scheduled Verdyuk's trial for September 11, 2002.
The journalist's colleagues and family maintain that he was killed for his work, local sources told CPJ.