In recent weeks, two reporters have been murdered in Russia under questionable circumstances. Abdulla Alishayev -- a host of the most popular Islamic television station in the Russian republic of Dagestsan -- was shot in the head and shoulder while in his car. Police say he was attacked by two unknown assailants.
Mr. Alishayev's death comes three days after journalist and Russian government critic Magomed Yevloyev was killed in Ingushetia -- a small Russian republic in the Caucasus region. Mr. Yevloyev, an outspoken critic of Moscow-backed leaders in Ingushetia, was the owner of a Web site that often criticized local leaders in Ingushetia. Russian forces have been engaged in putting down Islamic rebels in Dagestan and Ingushetia, which are both predominantly Muslim.
Other journalists in Dagestan have faced government harassment. Recently, the homes of the editor and two reporters of Chernovik, an independent weekly based in Dagestan, were searched as part of a criminal investigation into the editor who has been charged with inciting hatred and “attacking human dignity” for quoting a separatist leader.
The Glastnost Defense Foundation, which provides legal support to the media in Russia, estimates that more than two-hundred twenty journalists have been killed in Russia since 1991. Of those deaths, only six have been "properly investigated" according to the foundation.
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called on Russian officials "to get to the bottom" of who killed Mr. Yevloyev. "There need to be people held to account for what happened," said Mr. McCormack. He added, "There is in Russia itself, unfortunately, a sad recent history of violence against journalists who are merely seeking to do their job," said Mr. McCormack. "And the kinds of threats, intimidation, and violence that's used against a free press or those seeking to work in a free press in Russia have been unacceptable."