Remember Russian Television Journalist Killed Ilyas Shurpayev – March 21th 2008

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A Russian television journalist who had reported from the turbulent North Caucasus region was found strangled in his Moscow apartment on Friday, prosecutors said.

Police said the body of Ilyas Shurpayev, 32, was found by firefighters when they arrived to put out a fire in his apartment. They said it appeared Shurpayev was strangled with a belt and his attackers set his apartment on fire before leaving.

Shurpayev had moved to Moscow from Dagestan, a crime-ridden southern province neighboring Chechnya where he worked for several years as a reporter with state-controlled Channel One television.

Shurpayev reported from many conflict zones in the former Soviet Union including Chechnya and Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

A spokesman for the investigations committee of the Prosecutor-General’s office said several theories for Shurpayev’s murder were being checked, including those related to his personal life and his work.

“Apparently the journalist knew his murderer because he opened the door for him and let him in,” the spokesman said.

Russian media reported that a concierge in the apartment block where Shurpayev lived had seen the last person to visit him.

More than a dozen journalists have been slain in contract-style killings in Russia since 2000. Many journalists appear to have been targeted for beatings and killings because of their attempts to dig into allegations of corruption.

Shurpayev was not known as an investigative reporter.

Several hours before his death he posted an entry on his personal Internet blog, http://www.shurpaev.livejournal.com, saying he had been included in a black list of journalists barred from contributing to an unnamed Dagestani newspaper.

“Now I am a dissident! What nonsense!”, wrote Shurpayev, who said he had published only travel reports in the paper.

“I have not participated in the political life of my republic or even my district because I am too lazy and have no time,” he wrote.

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