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Russia21 April 2003

TV station owner shot dead in Murmansk

Reporters Without Borders called today for an immediate hunt for the killer of Murmansk TV station owner Dmitri Shvets, who was shot dead on 18 April as he got out of a car in front of the station’s offices in the northwestern Russian city.

It noted that at least three Russian journalists were murdered last year apparently because of their reporting and political views, yet their killers had not been found. It called for Shvets’ journalistic work to be taken into account in a serious enquiry and for those responsible to be tried and punished. The assailant got away after firing three shots but left the gun behind. Police said they would investigate.

Shvets (37) was co-owner and deputy managing director of the station TV-21, which he helped to found in 1990 as the region’s first independent station. Station owners Prof-Media considered him the key to the station’s success in becoming one of the most popular in the region.

It had recently broadcast criticism of the Murmansk city government and of candidates in next year’s city elections. TV-21 journalists said they had been verbally threatened by mayoral candidate Andrei Gorshkov, who warned he would sue if they put out an interview he had not liked. The local journalists’ union had announced threat on 14 March and the general prosecutor took up the matter.

Shvets, a prominent businessman who owned shops and a night-club in Murmansk, was also political adviser to regional governor Yuri Evdokimov.

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