Media News

Russia authorities fail to protect reporters-study

* At least 19 reporters killed due to their work since 1993

* Russian authorities not catching journalists’ killers

MOSCOW, June 15 (Reuters) - Russian authorities are failing to find killers of journalists, a report said on Monday that detailed the death of 124 reporters in Russia who have been murdered or died in accidents while at work since 1993.

The report said that 19 of these journalists had been murdered and another 19 were suspected of being murdered. Most of the other journalists had died in conflicts or accidents.

But while the authorities prosecuted the actual killers of the journalists, the report said, the people who ordered their murders were rarely caught.

“Much more should be done to protect journalists in Russia,” Vsevolod Bogdanov, head of the Russian Union of Journalists, said at the presentation of the report in central Moscow.

A photograph on the cover of the 38-page report pictured a make-shift memorial in central Moscow where an assassin shot dead a trainee female reporter and a human rights lawyer after a press briefing in January.

The lawyer had criticised the early release from prison of a Russian army officer who murdered a Chechen woman in 2000.

The authors of the document said the 2006 murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot dead by an assassin in her apartment block, had triggered the report.

Politkovskaya became famous around the world for her reporting on Russia’s second war against rebels in its southern region of Chechnya which started in 1999.

In February, a court acquitted three men of helping in her murder, leaving Russia’s most politically charged murder in recent years still unsolved. The man who pulled the trigger and the person who ordered the killing have never been caught.

“Over the past 15 years those who ordered the killings and arranged for the hire of assassins and their payment have hardly ever been charged, let alone prosecuted,” the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) that supported the report said in a press release.

The 2004 murder in Moscow of U.S. journalist Paul Klebnikov also remains unsolved. A jury acquitted two Chechens of his murder in 2007 and the people or person who ordered his death have yet to be found.

Klebnikov edited the Russian edition of Forbes magazine.

Jim Boumelha, President of the IFJ, said he hoped the authorities would act after the publication of Monday’s report.

“It’s part of a process,” he said of the report. “We are trying to start a process to improve safety for journalists in Russia.” (Writing by James Kilner; Editing by Richard Balmforth)