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Russia2 March 2006

Prosecutor urged to probe work lead in violent death of NTV journalist

Reporters Without Borders has urged the prosecutor to probe a possible link with his work after TV journalist Ilya Zimin of NTV, was found dead in his Moscow apartment. He was 33.

Colleagues concerned at his absence from work and failure to answer his phone, went to his home on 26 February 2006 to find the door of his apartment half open and his body lying in the middle of a disordered room. His face was covered with injuries.

“Journalists in Russia often face threats when they investigate sensitive matters. The last to pay the price in this way was Paul Khlebnikov. Ilya Zimin was an investigative journalist and some people could have wanted him to disappear because of it,” the press freedom organisation said.

“We urge the prosecutor in charge of the investigation not to neglect the professional lead and to make sure light is shed on this murky case.”

Zimin worked for various Russian TV channels, TV6, TVS then NTV. He was named “Best Russian TV Reporter” in 2002 by TEFI. Just before his death, he was working on an investigation into the hygiene of the capital’s luxury restaurants. He often worked using a hidden camera.

A judicial investigation was opened on 27 February into “injuries leading to death” under Article 11 of the Russian criminal code. The first post mortem examination found that the journalist probably died overnight on Saturday 25 February-Sunday 26 February as a result of a blow to the head with a blunt object.

Experts went to the crime scene to search for finger prints and investigators are questioning witnesses. One of them reportedly saw a man running out of the victim’s apartment on the morning of 26 February carrying a suitcase. A second witness who was walking a dog in the street apparently heard someone calling for help but was unable to tell where it was coming from.

The concierge said she saw three unknown individuals enter Ilya Zimin’s apartment on Sunday morning, claiming to be police officers. They apparently left the premises one hour later. It appeared that a video camera at the entrance to the building was not working on the night of the murder.

Major names in Russian journalism, such as Evgeny Kisseliev, former head of NTV and former proprietor of TV6, paid tribute to Zimin, stressing his talent and professionalism.

The Moscow prosecutor has not so far established a link between Zimin’s murder and his work as a journalist.

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