UNESCO chief decries murder of Russian journalist as attack on press freedom

15 October 2003
Alexei Sidorov

The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today condemned the latest murder of a journalist in the Volga region of central Russia as an attack on democracy and freedom of the press.

"The murder of Alexei Sidorov marks yet another attack on democracy and transparency in Russia and must be condemned as such," Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said. "It is alarming to note that Mr. Sidorov's predecessor, Valery Ivanov, the founder of the Togliatti Review, was also murdered and that both journalists died in the line of duty."

Mr. Sidorov, editor-in-chief of the Togliatti Review daily newspaper, or the Togliattinskoe Obozrenie, was killed last Thursday.

According to Reporters without Borders, an international organization that defends the rights of journalists, Mr. Ivanov, who was also managing director of independent Lada Television, was shot to death in front of his house in Togliatti in April 2002. Two senior journalists with Lada were killed in 2000 and 2001, it said.

Mr. Matsuura said he welcomed the Russian Interior Minister's determination to solve the crime and prosecute the perpetrators, "giving a strong signal to those who seek to use violence to restrict freedom of the press, an essential component of democracy."


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