Russia’s Dissident Bloggers Fear for Their Lives
Alastair Gee - September 30, 2008
The gunshot death of a Web journalist heightens alarm about efforts to muzzle dissent on the Internet
MOSCOW—A new chill is spreading among Russian bloggers following the death of the journalist-owner of an opposition website.
While opposition viewpoints are rarely presented in Russian newspapers these days (and even less frequently on television), the Internet has remained a place where Russians of all ideological stripes are able to express themselves.
But following the mysterious death of Web journalist Magomed Yevloyev and the prosecution of disaffected bloggers, there are fears that authorities are trying to squeeze shut that remaining outlet for freewheeling debate.
The issue came sharply into focus with the August 31 killing of Yevloyev, the founder of a popular site called Ingushetia.org that reports on human rights abuses in the restive southern Russian region of Ingushetia.
After he landed at the airport in the Ingushetian town of Nazran, a police convoy picked him up. Less than an hour later, he was delivered to the hospital with a fatal bullet wound to his head. Prosecutors have suggested the shooting was an accident, perhaps the result of Yevloyev trying to grab an officer’s gun, though his supporters say it was punishment for his muckraking site. “It was a premeditated murder,” concludes Musa Pliyev, a lawyer for Ingushetia.org.