Skryl, a business reporter working for the Nashe Vremya newspaper in the city of Rostov-on-Don in southwestern Russia, died from head injuries sustained during an attack the previous evening.
Late on the night of March 8, Skryl was returning to her home in the town of Taganrog, just outside Rostov-on-Don, when she was attacked from behind and struck in the head about a dozen times with a heavy, blunt object.
Neighbors called an ambulance and the police after hearing her scream. Skryl was found unconscious just outside her home and taken to Taganrog Hospital, where she died the following day.
Skryl, 29, reported on local business issues for a newspaper owned by Rostov regional authorities. Just before her death, she was investigating an ongoing struggle for the control of Tagmet, a local metallurgical plant. Nashe Vremya editor-in-chief Vera Yuzhanskaya believes that Skryl’s death was related to her professional activities, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported.
Since opening an investigation shortly after the murder, officials have changed their theories several times. Initially, the prosecutor’s office said that because Skryl was carrying jewelry and a large sum of cash that were not taken at the time of her murder, robbery could be ruled out as a motive.
But on July 24, the Taganrog Directorate of Internal Affairs announced that robbery was the motive, and that the crime was unrelated to her journalistic activities, the Ekho Rosotova radio station reported.
Taganrog authorities switched their story yet again on September 5, Nashe Vremya editor-in-chief Vera Yuzhanskaya told CPJ, when they closed the murder investigation without officially identifying the reason for the murder.
Grigory Bochkarov, a local analyst in Rostov-on-Don for the Moscow-based Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, told CPJ that the only credible motive for Skryl’s murder was her reporting about Tagmet and that police had emphasized the robbery motive in an effort to play down the significance of the case.
Just prior to her death, Skryl reportedly told several colleagues that she had recently obtained sensitive information about the Tagmet story and was planning to publish an article revealing this information.