Vasily Grodnikov

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Grodnikov, a freelancer for the Minsk opposition newspaper, was found dead in his apartment with a head wound.

Grodnikov’s brother, Nikolai Grodnikov, said the journalist was murdered because of his work for Narodnaya Volya, Agence France-Presse reported. He said his brother had survived an attack in January, but he gave no details. Narodnaya Volya Editor-in-Chief Yosif Seredich said that Grodnikov, 66, wrote mostly about social issues and had no links to the authorities or the opposition, the independent news agency Belapan reported.

Authorities had harassed Narodnaya Volya in retaliation for its criticism of President Aleksandr Lukashenko. State-run kiosks were not permitted to sell the newspaper. Authorities had recently ended its printing contract, forcing it to use a printer in the neighboring Russian city of Smolensk.

Nikolai Grodnikov said, “There was a lot of blood on the walls, the floor, the window… Everything in the house was turned over.” The journalist’s niece, Natalya Grodnikov, said that there was no sign of robbery or forced entry.

The Interior Ministry said that Grodnikov had died of a stroke, the independent Moscow daily Gazeta reported. However, an autopsy at the Minsk Regional Clinical Hospital concluded that the cause of death was head trauma. The Minsk regional prosecutor’s office was investigating the death, Belapan reported.