The body of Valery Ivanov, editor-in-chief of the daily Toliaitinskoie obosrenie and managing editor of the independent TV channel Lada-TV, was found riddled with automatic weapon bullets in his car parked in front of his home on 29 April at Toliatti in the Urals. His colleagues believe his murder, by a hired killer, was linked to a series of articles on corruption among local officials, including the mayor Sergei Jilkin, who was implicated in a scandal involving misappropriation of public funds, as well as criminal gangs in the region and drug mafias.
Valery Ivanov was also investigating activities of a criminal gang linked to the Avtovaz car-makers factory which produced Lada vehicles. His newspaper had taken an active part in the electoral campaign for the Duma (municipal authority). In 2001 and 2000, two other senior executives of Lada-TV, Sergei Ivanov, the managing director and Sergei Loguinov, former editor-in-chief of the channel, were murdered, by hired killers.