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Russia29 May 2002

Newspaper owner shot dead

Reporters Without Borders called today on Russia’s chief state prosecutor, Vladimir Ustinov, to thoroughly investigate the murder of Alexander Plotnikov, co-owner of the regional daily paper in Tumen (Siberia), Gostini dvor, who was shot dead on 20 May.

"Because so many journalists have been killed in Russia recently as a result of their work, we ask you to see that a serious and timely enquiry is made into whether his death was linked to articles he published, even though at first glance it may seem it was due to a financial dispute among the paper’s owners," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to Ustinov.

Investigators think the murder was done by hired killers. Shortly beforehand, the other owners had switched all the paper’s shares into their own bank accounts and started proceedings to wind up the paper. Plotnikov had won a court case against them and was trying, with the help of bailiffs, to recuperate his shares. The other owners had already refused to allow him to enter their offices and on 20 May, the day he was killed with a Makarov pistol, he was going to make another attempt to do so.

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