Journalist murdered in Dagestan

Journalist murdered in Dagestan

MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
Journalist murdered in Dagestan

This picture taken on September 21, 2010 shows Khadzhimurad Kamalov. AFP photo

A gunman in Russia’s troubled Caucasus region of Dagestan shot dead a leading journalist who founded a newspaper known for criticism of the local authorities, officials said Dec. 16.

Khadzhimurad Kamalov, the founder of the Dagestan weekly newspaper Chernovik and the director of its publisher Svoboda Slova (Freedom of Speech), was riddled with bullets in the main city Makhachkala, investigators said. A gunman shot him dead with a pistol as he was coming out of the offices of the publisher at around midnight, the Russian Investigative Committee said in a statement.

“The victim died on the way to hospital from multiple gunshot wounds,” it said. Kamalov was the founder of Chernovik, which has been published since 2003 and won a reputation for its bold criticism of the local authorities.

Dagestan, a Muslim Caspian Sea region known for its ancient culture and tapestry of ethnic groups, is fighting an insurgency by militants seeking to establish an Islamic state across the Russian Caucasus. Several of Chernovik’s staffers risked jail earlier this year after being charged with inciting hate against the security forces after criticizing their tactics against Islamist militants.

However they were acquitted in May, in a ruling hailed as a rare victory for press freedom. Kalamov himself had been accused of extremism for daring to quote a militant leader in an article.