1 June 2017 – The Russian authorities must ensure a prompt, independent and effective investigation into the killing of chief editor Dmitry Popkov, PEN International and St Petersburg PEN said today, amidst growing concerns for the safety of journalists in the country.
Dmitry Popkov, 42, was the co-founder and chief editor of local newspaper Ton-M in Minusinsk, Siberia, known for its independent editorial line and reports on corruption. He was found dead at his home on 24 May 2017 with multiple gunshot wounds. The Krasnoyarsk Krai branch of Russia’s Investigative Committee announced on 25 May that an investigation had been launched into the killing and that it was considering several motives, including a link to Dmitry Popkov’s professional activities.
“We condemn the killing of Dmitry Popkov. The Russian authorities must ensure that this appalling crime does not go unpunished. An investigation must be carried out promptly and independently. Perpetrators must be brought to justice” said Carles Torner, Executive Director of PEN International.
Dmitry Popkov is the second journalist to be killed in Russia this year. Nikolai Andrushchenko, co-founder of the weekly newspaper Novy Peterburg, died on 19 April 2017 of injuries sustained in a beating the previous month. He was known for his reporting on corruption and human rights abuses.
Impunity remains a serious concern in Russia. In the last two decades six journalists from leading independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta have been killed in direct retaliation for their work, including the investigative journalist and PEN member Anna Polikovskaya, whose murder remains unsolved. Earlier this year, staff of Novaya Gazeta were threatened after they exposed horrific abuses of men believed to be gay in Chechnya. Chechen authorities appeared to condone acts of violence against the journalists.
“The Russian authorities must break the vicious circle of impunity. They can start by publicly condemning attacks against journalists and doing everything in their power to protect them from harm” said Elena Chizhova, Director of St Petersburg PEN.
For further details contact Aurélia Dondo at PEN International, Koops Mill, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, UK Tel: +44 (0) 20 7405 0338 Fax +44 (0) 20 7405 0339 e-mail: Aurelia.firstname.lastname@example.org