Journalist shot dead in Siberia

Moscow: A local journalist was found shot dead in a small Siberian town, investigators said on Thursday, adding they believe his slaying may be linked to his work.

The body of Dmitry Popkov, editor of local paper Ton-M, was discovered on Wednesday in the yard of a house at Minusinsk, a small town some 440 kilometres south of the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk.

The 42-year-old’s body bore evidence of bullet wounds, news agency RIA Novosti quoted investigators as saying.

“The investigation is following various lines of enquiry regarding this killing, including that it may have been motivated by the victim’s professional activities,” a statement by investigators said.

The regional interior ministry said a commission of enquiry was under way, adding the immediate area around where the body had been found had been sealed off.

Popkov is the second journalist to be killed in Russia this year following Nikolai Andrushenko, who died after an assault in Saint Petersburg which his colleagues say was linked to his attempts to expose corruption.

Reporters without Borders currently ranks Russia 148th in the world for press freedom — behind Mexico, which the organisation judges the third most deadly country for journalists in the world — after Syria and Afghanistan.

In press freedom terms, Russia also ranks behind Zimbabwe and Algeria.

Russia has seen a swathe of attacks on journalists in recent years — but police investigations rarely run their course.

Probably the most notorious case was that of opposition reporter and human rights campaigner Anna Politkovskaya, murdered in Moscow in October 2006.

Five men — four of them from Chechnya, from where she had regularly reported, were found guilty of the killing and handed heavy jail terms, but whoever contracted her murder was never identified.