Shafig Amrakhov

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On December 30, 2008, an unidentified assailant shot and seriously wounded Amrakhov, editor of the online regional news agency RIA 51, in his apartment building in the northern city of Murmansk, the independent news agency Regnum reported. The assailant shot the journalist several times in the head, using what is known as a non-lethal traumatic pistol, the local press reported. 

According to local press reports, Amrakhov was conscious immediately after the attack and managed to give his family details. He was taken to a Murmansk hospital, where he underwent several hours of surgery. He slipped into a coma after the surgery and died on January 5, Regnum reported.

Local police reportedly considered several potential motives for the attack, including Amrakhov’s journalism, the local channel TV-21 reported. Several local reports said the choice of weapon suggested the attacker intended to intimidate the journalist but not necessarily kill him. 

On January 22, Gen. Vitaly Fedotov, head of the Murmansk region police department, told TV-21 that investigators had ruled out Amrakhov’s journalism as a motive. He would not disclose what investigators believed the motive was.

The Moscow-based Glasnost Defense Foundation said the journalist suffered a concussion in a 1997 attack in which an unknown assailant struck him in the head with a blunt object in the entrance to his apartment building. In February 2008, Amrakhov publicly protested the authorities’ decision to deny him accreditation for then-President Vladimir Putin’s last press conference as head of state. In his public letter, carried by local media, he criticized the economic policies of Murmansk Gov. Yuri Yevdokimov.

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