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Russia2 April 2008

Shchekochikhin case reexamined

Reporters Without Borders today welcomed the reopening of the enquiry into the suspicious death in 2003 of senior journalist Yuri Shchekochikin and said it hoped new evidence would be presented to explain it.

The revival of the probe, by investigator Alexander Bastrykin, was announced on 25 March and came after the refusal of local detectives to reopen the case.

Shchekochikin, deputy editor of the twice-weekly Novaya Gazeta and a member of parliament for the opposition party Iabloko, died in hospital 2 July 2003 after 10 days in a coma. Doctors said it was a natural death linked to an allergy, but the journalist’s colleagues believe he was poisoned. He had been threatened several times.

Shchekochikin had been investigating high-level government corruption and the situation in Chechnya. He belonged to an independent committee of MPs looking into charges against the FSB secret police of involvement in attacks on residential tower-blocks in Moscow, Buynaksk and Volgodonsk in 1999, which were followed by then prime minister Vladimir Putin’s second war against Chechnyan separatists.




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