Journalist Assassinated in Russia

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President Boris Yeltsin
The Kremlin
Moscow, Russian Federation

Help CPJ protest the
killing of Larisa Yudina.
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June 12, 1998

Read NPR's Interview with Yudina, the last before her murder


Your Excellency,

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is greatly alarmed by the assassination last weekend of Larisa Yudina, editor of the opposition Sovietskaya Kalmykia Segodnya newspaper in the southern autonomous republic of Kalmykia.

The 53-year-old Yudina, a prominent journalist and political activist, was investigating reports of corrupt business practices by regional officials when she disappeared on June 7. That day she went to meet a source who promised to give her evidence of financial improprieties by local firms involved in an effort by Kalmyk President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to set up an offshore zone in the republic. She was found dead on June 8 in the outskirts of the Kalmyk capital, Elista, with multiple stab wounds and a fractured skull.

Yudina was frequently harassed and threatened for her exposés of local corruption and hard-line rule by the republic's millionaire president. For several years she was forced to publish Sovietskaya Kalmykia Segodnya, the only alternative news outlet in the republic, in neighboring Volgograd after President Ilyumzhinov ordered local printing presses to stop printing issues of the paper. Her troubles with Kalmyk authorities as a journalist and local leader of the liberal opposition Yabloko party were documented by international and Russian media, and press freedom groups, but elicited no response from Russian leaders. Her death prompted public protests in Elista, as people demanded a federal investigation into her murder. Hundreds of residents gathered for Yudina's funeral on June 10.

In response to the public outcry, Your Excellency has publicly condemned Yudina's murder, Federal Prosecutor-General Yuri Skuratov has taken over the investigation, and three unidentified suspects, described as close to the republic's leaders, have been arrested in connection with the crime.

As a nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending the universally recognized rights of our colleagues around the world, CPJ condemns the assassination of Larisa Yudina in apparent reprisal for her work as a journalist. While we applaud the quick and high-level action taken by federal law enforcement officials, we must stress that your efforts have come too late for Yudina. We remind you of Russia's international obligations to protect the rights of journalists to freely and safely practice their profession, without fear of retaliation. We call on you to make public the progress of your investigation and prosecute those responsible.

Thank you for your attention. We await your comments.


William Orme, Jr.

Executive Director