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Home The News News Russian journalist dies after setting herself on fire

Russian journalist dies after setting herself on fire

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Koza.Press editor-in-chief Irina Slavina poses for a photograph in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, on Oct. 1 last year. She died on Friday, after setting herself on fire outside regional police headquarters.
Photo: AP

The editor of a Russian independent news site died on Friday after setting herself on fire following a police raid in a probe targeting an opposition group, her Web site said.

The news site Koza.Press in the city of Nizhny Novgorod reported that its editor-in-chief, Irina Slavina, had “set herself on fire in front of the police headquarters.”

Investigators in the city later confirmed her death in a statement saying that her body had been found with “signs of thermal burns,” while saying there was “no basis” to connect her death to police raids as she was only a witness in a probe.

The journalist had written on Facebook hours before her death: “I ask you to blame my death on the Russian Federation.”

A video posted on social media reportedly showed her setting herself on fire on a bench.

Slavina’s Web site carried out investigative reporting and covered opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin, her friends and supporters said, a rarity in regional journalism, which faces pressure from local authorities.

She “died from her injuries,” her site reported, saying that her husband had confirmed it.

The site became inaccessible shortly afterward.

Her death prompted tributes from journalists and activists, including human rights advocate Pavel Chikov, who wrote on the Telegram messenger that he had worked with her twice when she was charged with disrespecting the authorities and publishing false news reports.

Slavina had on Thursday written on social media that police and federal guards burst into her flat in an early morning raid.

She said that they were searching for evidence of links to Open Russia, an opposition movement funded by Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky that has been ruled undesirable by the authorities, amid allegations that it funded protests in the city.

“I don’t have anything,” the journalist said, adding that police confiscated her notebooks and computer, as well as laptops and phones belonging to her, and her husband and daughter.

“I have no means of production,” she said.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is recovering in Berlin after being poisoned in Russia with what German doctors said was a military-grade nerve agent, described Slavina’s death as “terrible.”

“A criminal case was fabricated against Slavina under a political charge. Yesterday, her home was searched, doors were cut out and computers confiscated,” he wrote. “They absolutely drove her to suicide.”

Local news Web site NN.ru reported that people were holding a vigil in Slavina’s memory on a city street, with one man holding a placard saying: “The state kills.”

Source: Taipei Times - 2020/10/04

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