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Prosecutors say Russian TV journalist killed

21/03/2008 - 13:15

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian television journalist who had reported from the turbulent North Caucasus region was found strangled in his Moscow apartment on Friday, prosecutors said.

Police said the body of Ilyas Shurpayev, 32, was found byfirefighters when they arrived to put out a fire in hisapartment. They said it appeared Shurpayev was strangled with abelt and his attackers set his apartment on fire beforeleaving.

Shurpayev had moved to Moscow from Dagestan, a crime-riddensouthern province neighbouring Chechnya where he worked forseveral years as a reporter with state-controlled Channel Onetelevision.

Shurpayev reported from many conflict zones in the formerSoviet Union including Chechnya and Georgia's breakaway regionsof Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

A spokesman for the investigations committee of theProsecutor-General's office said several theories forShurpayev's murder were being checked, including those relatedto his personal life and his work.

"Apparently the journalist knew his murderer because heopened the door for him and let him in," the spokesman said.

Russian media reported that a concierge in the apartmentblock where Shurpayev lived had seen the last person to visithim.

More than a dozen journalists have been slain incontract-style killings in Russia since 2000. Many journalistsappear to have been targeted for beatings and killings becauseof their attempts to dig into allegations of corruption.

Shurpayev was not known as an investigative reporter.

Several hours before his death he posted an entry on hispersonal Internet blog, www.shurpaev.livejournal.com, saying hehad been included in a black list of journalists barred fromcontributing to an unnamed Dagestani newspaper.

"Now I am a dissident! What nonsense!", wrote Shurpayev,who said he had published only travel reports in the paper.

"I have not participated in the political life of myrepublic or even my district because I am too lazy and have notime," he wrote.

(Writing by Oleg Shchedrov; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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