UNESCO voices new concern over deaths of journalists in Caucasus

18 September 2008

The head of the United Nations agency mandated to defend press freedom today voiced renewed concern over the safety of journalists in the Caucasus region, this time citing the deaths of two newsmen in the Russian Federation.

“I am deeply shocked about the all too numerous reports of violent attacks against journalists in the Caucasus,” UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said in a news release. “I call on all authorities in the region to do everything they can to improve the safety of media workers.”

Abdullah Alishaev from the Republic of Dagestan, who reported on religious affairs for the local television station TV-Chirkei, died on 3 September from wounds sustained when he was shot by unknown assailants the previous evening in Dagestan’s provincial capital, Makhachkala.

Magomed Yevloyev, the founder, owner and former editor-in-chief of the independent news website www.ingushetiya.ru, died after he was detained by the police on his return to Ingushetia from a visit to Moscow on 31 August. Police brought him to hospital where he died from gunshot wounds to the head.

“The killings of journalists are crimes against society as a whole as they deal a blow to freedom of expression and access to independent information for the people of the region,” Mr. Matsuura said. “I trust that the investigation launched by the authorities will allow the culprits to be brought to justice.”

Last month he deplored the killing of at least three journalists in the fighting in Georgia between Georgian, Russian and South Ossetian forces.

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