Military officer charged in murder of Russian journalist Dmitri Kholodov.

Tuesday, March 3, 1998

Update: Military Officer charged in murder of Russian journalist

(Canadian Committee to Protect Journalists, 3 March 1998)

Russian law enforcement authorities are at last reporting an arrest in the 1994 murder of journalist Dmitri Kholodov. On 12 February 1998, the Prosecutor-General's office charged retired military officer Pavel Popovskikh with planning and participating in Kholodov's murder. The 27-year-old journalist, who wrote extensively on corruption in the Russian military before his death, was the first journalist in Russia to be targeted for assassination for his work as a reporter.

In October 1994, Kholodov was killed when a booby-trapped briefcase he had collected from a source exploded in his newspaper's offices. Kholodov had been told the attachó case contained secret documents exposing corruption at the military's highest levels. At that time, the editors of Kholodov's daily, Moskovsky Komsomolets, accused the military of ordering the contract killing. Despite the military's denial of involvement, Kholodov's killing sent shockwaves throughout Russian's journalist community. Although journalists had previously died in the line of duty, the targeting of a specific journalist personalized the risk faced by reporters and, consequently, had a chilling effect on investigative journalism in Russia.

A successful conviction in this murder case will be heralded as a major step towards returning journalists' confidence in Russia's law enforcement agencies and their ability to adequately protect journalists from organised forms of intimidation.

For more information on Kholodov's murder case see the IFEX Action Alert dated 20 February 1998.