The IUSB Vision Weblog

The way to crush the middle class is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. – Vladimir Lenin

Another Reporter Executed in Moscow

Posted by iusbvision on February 1, 2009

MOSCOW (AP) – The dead loom over the morning editorial meeting at Russia’s leading investigative newspaper. Novaya Gazeta’s staff is trying to plan the next issue and editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov is in an understandably foul mood.

In a corner hang photos of four reporters he has lost in the past eight years – one beaten to death, one allegedly poisoned, two shot – the most recent on Jan. 19.

It’s not easy to put a paper out these days, Muratov says.

“There’s usually a lot of jokes, laughing, talk about ideas. But our batteries are totally spent,” says Muratov, 47, billows of pipe smoke filling the long pauses. “How can there be any sort of (normal) frame of mind when a journalist is being buried?”

That journalist was Anastasia Baburova, a 25-year-old cub reporter. She and a human rights lawyer were shot execution-style by a masked man with a silenced pistol as they walked together a few blocks from the Kremlin.

In a country considered one of the most dangerous for journalists, no Russian newspaper has suffered like Novaya Gazeta. In a country where most media have been cowed into submission, no other newspaper publishes such probing investigative articles and acid commentary about government corruption, police-state politics and Chechnya war abuses.

“Every two or three years, we lose someone,” says Elena Kostyuchenko, a 21-year-old investigative writer for the paper. “But you just have to write, write, write and keep writing. You have to.”

Some 16 journalists have died in contract-style slayings or under suspicious circumstances in Russia since 2000. Many more have been assaulted or threatened.

Under Vladimir Putin, who became president in 2000 and now is prime minister, the TV networks watched by most Russians were taken over by the state, their news operations highly sanitized. Big-selling newspapers are either sympathetic to the Kremlin or owned by Kremlin-allied business groups.

Of the many free-spirited papers that sprang up when the Soviet Union collapsed, Novaya Gazeta – meaning New Newspaper – is a rare survivor.

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20090131/D9629O3G0.html

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