More Than 1,000 Protest at Russian Journalist’s Funeral

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The New York Sun

MOSCOW — More than 1,000 angry mourners turned the funeral for a journalist critical of Russia’s government into a demonstration yesterday, accusing police of lying when they said he was accidentally shot by an officer.

Magomed Yevloyev died Sunday after a police car picked him up from an airport in Ingushetia province in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus and then dumped him on the road with a gunshot wound in his head.

Up to 1,200 people turned out for his funeral, said rights activist Magomed Mutsolgov, who was among the crowd. They lined up to pay their last respects to Yevloyev. The journalist’s shrouded body was laid out on a large carpet, a blue headband hiding his wound.

Armed traffic police surrounded the funeral site near Ingushetia’s main city, Nazran. Some in the crowd carried banners demanding the resignation of the regional leader, Murat Zyazikov, and a fair investigation into Yevloyev’s death.

A regional prosecutor, Yuri Turygin, said a police officer “accidentally” shot him after the journalist allegedly tried to take away the officer’s gun, the Interfax news agency reported. Yevloyev’s lawyer, Kaloi Akhilgov, told Interfax Yevloyev was shot in the head point-blank.

Mr. Mutsolgov said he believes Yevloyev was “deliberately and cynically” killed by Ingush authorities as retribution for running an online publication that reported on widespread allegations of abuses, abductions, and killings in Ingushetia.

“This was no accidental shot,” Mr. Mutsolgov told The Associated Press by phone.

Critics say Russia witnessed a steady rollback of post-Soviet media and political freedoms during Vladimir Putin’s eight-year presidency and became one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists with more than a dozen reporters slain in contract-style killings since 2000. Victims included Anna Politkovskaya, an investigative reporter who won acclaim for her reporting of atrocities against civilians in war-scarred Chechnya and was killed in 2006.

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