* North Caucasus is riven by Islamist insurgency
* Putin urges those responsible for killing to be caught
(Adds comments from Putin)
By Gabriela Baczynska
MOSCOW, Dec 6 A state television presenter in
Russia's volatile North Caucasus was shot dead late on
Wednesday, a killing federal investigators said may have been
meant as a warning to journalists reporting on an Islamist
Kazbek Gekkiyev, 28, who worked for a local channel of
Russian state broadcaster VGTRK, was killed in Nalchik, capital
of the internal republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, the federal
Investigative Committee said.
He was not known for reporting on crime or the insurgency,
which is less prevalent in Kabardino-Balkaria than in other
areas nearby such as Dagestan.
A woman identified as a witness by another VGTRK channel
said two people had got out of a car and asked Gekkiyev, 'Are
you TV presenter Kazbek Gekkiyev?' before the shots were fired.
Colleagues were reported as saying they did not understand
the motive for the killing, and the investigators said they were
not ruling out any possible cause.
President Vladimir Putin urged security forces to find those
responsible for the killing.
"All people must be protected ... and I am sure that our law
enforcement bodies will do everything so that the criminals will
be revealed and punished," he told reporters in the city of
Sochi, a few hundred kilometres away from Nalchik.
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said
last year that the North Caucasus, a mostly Muslim area in
southern Russia, was one of the most dangerous places in the
world for journalists.
Local representatives of federal bodies, especially the
Interior Ministry, are often targets of violence there.
Media cited Gekkiyev's co-workers as saying that other
presenters at the station were taken off the air after receiving
threats from local insurgent leaders.
The reports said those journalists had reported on
operations by security forces against Islamist radicals.
Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the Investigative
Committee, said the security services were still trying to
But he said investigators suspected Gekkiyev was killed as
"a threat to other journalists speaking about results of the
fight against the bandit underground in the republic".
Authorities often refer to insurgents as members of the
The insurgents, who wage nearly daily violence across the
North Caucasus, say they want to create an Islamic state in the
area wedged between the Black and Caspian Seas.
Ethnic tension, including those between Balkars and
Kabardins in Kabardino-Balkaria, helps drive the insurgency,
along with grievances stemming from corruption and strong-arm
police tactics used by local leaders to staunch the violence.
(Editing by Tom Pfeiffer and Andrew Osborn)