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Journalists Murdered In Russia

Another journalist has been murdered in Russia. Yevgeny Gerasimenko, a correspondent for the independent weekly Saratovsky Rasklad, was found in his apartment with a plastic bag over his head and multiple bruises on his body. According to local news reports, Mr. Gerasimenko's computer was missing.

Authorities in the Russian city of Saratov have arrested a homeless man for the murder of Mr. Gerasimenko. They say robbery was the motive. But colleagues of Mr. Gerasimenko said he could have been killed because of his work. He had been investigating the corporate takeover of a commercial enterprise in Saratov, according to Saratovksy Rasklad Editor-in-Chief Vladimir Siryagin. Saratovsky Rasklad often publishes political analyses and exposes business corruption.

Joel Simon is director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, a group that monitors press freedom around the world. He said he is concerned that "reports thus far leave important questions unanswered. Given the sensitive nature of Gerasimenko's work prior to his killing," said Mr. Simon, "it is imperative that authorities investigate thoroughly the possible professional motives in the slaying."

Russian authorities have also failed to resolve the 2004 murder of Forbes Russia editor Paul Klebnikov, as a recent acquittal of two suspects in the case means those responsible for his murder are still at-large. Although commending the Russian Procuracy’s continuing investigation of the case, a recently passed U.S. Senate resolution calls on the Russian government to continue its investigation and accept U.S. assistance in the case.

Yevgeny Gerasimenko and Paul Klebnikov are not the only reporters to have been murdered in Russia. Since 2000, at least twelve journalists have been killed in contract-style slayings. No one has been brought to justice in eleven of the twelve cases. Observers wonder when the Russian government will take determined action to solve these crimes and demonstrate a renewed commitment to media freedom and democracy.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said "The intimidation and murder of journalists is an affront to all who value democratic values and must not be tolerated."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.