Novikov, 36, owner of the only independent radio station in Smolensk, was shot and killed at around 9:00 p.m. in the stairwell of his apartment building. The killer shot him four times and then escaped through a back door.
Radio Vesna often criticized the government of Smolensk Province. On July 23, Novikov took part in a television panel that discussed the alleged corruption of the provincial deputy governor. Novikov's employees believed his murder was politically motivated. He reportedly received death threats earlier in the year after announcing his intent to run for the provincial governorship.
Novikov was also one of the most successful businesspeople in the region, serving on the board of directors of a local glass-making factory.
At year's end, a Radio Vesna staff member told CPJ that the killer remained at large, that the investigation was continuing, and that police had not yet determined a motive.