Dead Journalists in Putin's Russia

Plus Ca Change, Plus C'est la Meme Chose?

Did you know that nearly twice as many Russian journalists were killed in the 1990s when Boris Yeltsin was president of Russia as in the seven years of Vladimir Putin’s presidency? According to the records of the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York–based organization that tracks violations against free journalism around the world, in Yeltsin’s Russia, 42 journalists were killed and 3 disappeared. Since Mr. Putin became president, 22 journalists have been killed and 2 disappeared. As in the Yeltsin years, the motivations for the great majority of these tragic killings are tied to the wars in Chechnya and/or criminal activities. And, as in the Yeltsin years, almost none of these murders has been solved. The truth is that in Putin’s Russia, like Yeltsin’s Russia, being an investigative journalist is a very dangerous profession. And today, as in the 1990s, Russia’s ramshackle legal system provides virtually no incentive for investigators to solve the crimes. They would only discover the same dangerous information that the journalists did, and you can bet they are not counting on the Russian legal system to protect them in that event.


Andrew C. Kuchins