Killing of journalist should be promptly investigated
– The killing of journalist Akhmednabi Akhmednabiev on Tuesday 9 July should be promptly investigated and those responsible should be prosecuted, said Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary General. – The attempted murder on Akhmednabiev in January 2013 was ignored by the Prosecutor’s office, in spite of a Dagestan Supreme Court decision that it should be investigated. This culture of impunity for those attacking and even murdering journalists and human rights defenders in North Caucasus must end. If not, authorities will remain complicit in these killings.
At about 7:30 am on Tuesday morning in the outskirts of Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, the journalist of the newspaper New Business was shot down from a passing car. Akhmednabiev had just left his home in the village of Samandar and was about to enter his car when he was hit by a lethal shot.
– The murder of Akhmednabiev must be seen in the context of his journalistic activities. He had written extensively on government oppression in Dagestan, and had been strongly criticized and labeled an extremist by officials. His name had appeared on a so-called death list, allegedly composed by Russian law enforcement agencies. The same list included the name of the owner of the newspaper «Черновик» (Draft), Khadzhimurat Kamalov, who was killed in December 2011.
Akhmednabiev was well-known for his detailed coverage of controversial events in the North Caucasus. In addition to writing in New Business, he had for more than seven years contributed reports to Caucasian Knot, an online news portal that cooperates with the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. The portal focuses on “violations of human rights, the situation in armed conflict zones, cases of ethnic or political discrimination and refugees' problems”.
Akhmednabiev was an experienced cardiologist who became journalist only in the late 1990s. He wrote for several leading Caucasian publications, and was for many years Deputy Editor and later Editor of the weekly New Business. Despite being engaged in demanding journalistic activities, he did not leave his medical practice and continued his work in a hospital in his native village Karat.
– Akhmednabiev became only 55 years old. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee expresses its condolences to his family, friends and colleagues, said Ekeløve-Slydal. Russian authorities should now send a strong signal that it will no longer tolerate that those who are exposing the truth about controversial events must pay with their lives. Unfortunately, there seems to be strong reluctance against ending impunity for these crimes in Russia. There is therefore need for strong international pressure on Russian authorities to initiate effective measures to prevent further violence against journalists.
Photo: Caucasian Knot