"Not only Togliatti and Samara, but all of Russia as
well as the international community anxiously expect to hear more about the
long-overdue progress in investigating the murders of Valery Ivanov and Aleksei
Sidorov," CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator
Ivanov and Sidorov started Tolyattinskoye Obozreniye in the mid-1990s, publishing critical exposes on crime and corruption. From the start, its bold editorial line earned the paper popularity among readers but also ardent enemies, who threatened staffers, vandalized the paper's offices, and, eventually, murdered Ivanov and Sidorov, CPJ research shows.
On April 29, 2002, as Ivanov, 32, was getting into a car
outside his home at about 11 p.m., an assailant shot him in the head at point-blank
range. Eyewitnesses saw the killer--a man in his mid-to-late 20s; he was never arrested.
On the evening of October 9, 2003, several witnesses saw three assailants follow
Sidorov, 31, stab him in the chest several times, then search him. Sidorov (who
had replaced Ivanov as editor-in-chief 18 month before) had work-related
documents on him, his colleagues told CPJ. He had been working on a story
Ivanov never finished that accused
In the next three years, investigations in both murders
were suspended and restarted several times with no results. The latest reported
development came in October
2004 when, under increased public scrutiny, a
In late September, after a meeting with CPJ, the Investigative Committee at the federal level announced that it would restart dormant or closed probes into five out of 19 journalist murders committed in Russia since 2000. Among those five are the murders of Ivanov and Sidorov. On November 18, Vitaly Gorstkin, a top official with the Investigative Committee of Samara Region, told local press that the agency had made new progress in the two journalist murders, as well as in the murders of two local government officials; he said evidence suggests that the four high-profile killings are linked and committed by the same people, the local press reported.
Later the same day, Gorstkin's associate Yelena Shkayeva announced that the agency had identified and was seeking a suspect in Ivanov's murder on an arrest warrant. In the next week, a few more details surfaced in the local press--it cited Gorstkin's office as saying it had identified a circle of five suspects in the murders, and one suspect was reported to be in custody. It is unclear whether this was the suspect being sought on a warrant.