Makhackala: The founder of a leading independent weekly publication critical of authorities in the restive province of Dagestan in Russia`s North Caucasus has been shot dead outside the newspaper`s office, police said Friday.
Khadzhimurad Kamalov`s paper Chernovik (Rough Draft) has reported extensively on police abuses in the fight against an Islamist insurgency that originated in neighboring Chechnya and has spread across Russia`s Caucasus region. Kamalov founded the weekly in 2003, worked as its editor for several years and remained its publisher until his killing late Thursday.
Vyacheslav Gasanov, a spokesman for the Russian Interior Minister`s branch in Dagestan, said that a masked gunman riddled Kamalov with bullets outside the newspaper`s office in the provincial capital, Makhachkala. Kamalov died of his wounds at a local hospital shortly after.
Chernovik`s editor Nadira Isayeva was presented with the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists` International Press Freedom award in 2010.
CPJ hailed the paper`s relentless reporting on the heavy-handed tactics of security agencies in the fight against Islamic militancy. It said that Isayeva and the newspaper were regularly harassed with official summonses, financial audits and state-commissioned "linguistic analyses" that label content as extremist.
Chechen rebels have fought two separatist wars against Russian forces since 1994. Major battles in the second war died down about a decade ago, but the Islamist insurgency has spread across neighboring North Caucasus provinces, stoked by poverty, corruption and abuses against civilians by security forces. Attacks on police and other authorities have become a near daily occurrence.