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16.12.2007

Russia remembers slain journalists

   

On 15 December Russians paid tribute to journalists killed while carrying out their work.  Candles and photos were placed on the stairs leading to the concert hall of the Central House of Journalists in Moscow in memory of those who were not afraid of telling the truth. According to the General Secretary of the Russian Journalists’ Union Igor Yakovenko, over the last 15 years, more than 250 journalists from Russian newspapers, television channels and radio stations have been killed. He said that after censorship had, at constitutional level, been abolished other forms of censorship had emerged – economic, judicial and so forth.  One of the most noticeable forms however was that of the Kalashnikov rifle.

It was indicative that the murder of journalists had been a separate subject for a UN Resolution since it was indeed a separate issue. Russia is in second place behind Iraq for the number of journalists killed.

In Russia journalists are not as a rule killed in military situations, but because they tell the truth. Russia has the worst record for the number of successful investigations into journalist killings. Less than 3 percent of the killers have been prosecuted.

There is another issue linked with the killing of journalists.  There are other professions as well where people get killed. They sometimes kill doctors, for example.  Yet then, as a rule, doctors are killed for having done their job badly – they can be killed by relatives of those they didn’t manage to save. Journalists on the contrary are usually killed for doing their work well.

“Each day on my way to work I pass a gallery of portraits of journalists awarded the highest honours.  Then a bit further there are the portraits of slain journalists. So, there you are, the second gallery is the more representative: they kill those who really are the best.”

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