Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev, 53, deputy editor of the independent news outlet Novoye Delo and a contributor to the independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel, was shot dead at 7 a.m. outside his house in Semender, a suburb of Makhachkala, capital of Dagestan, according to regional and international press reports. A gunman shot at the journalist from a car before fleeing the scene, the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported.
In January 2013, Akhmednabiyev said he had been the target of threats and attacks. He told authorities he had received threats via text messages and that an unknown gunman fired several times at him outside his home, according to Novaya Gazeta and Kavkazsky Uzel. As in the fatal July attack, the assailant fired from a car. Akhmednabiyev was not injured in the January attack, but his car was damaged. News accounts said Akhmednabiyev later asked authorities for protection, but the request was not granted.
Grigory Shvedov, chief editor of Kavkazsky Uzel, told CPJ that he believed the killing was politically motivated and connected to Akhmednabiyev's journalism. Akhmednabiyev often covered sensitive topics, including government corruption and abductions, arbitrary detentions, and torture of local residents by local and federal authorities, according to Kavkazsky Uzel and other news reports. He accused the regional government of Akhvakh, Dagestan, of corruption, and covered protests in which local residents urged the governor to step down.
Shvedov said local authorities refused to investigate the January 2013 attack as attempted murder and instead classified it as a case of property damage. Akhmednabiyev's lawyer contested the police response in court, and in April, Dagestan's Supreme Court ordered regional prosecutors to reconsider the case classification, according to Kavkazsky Uzel. In June, prosecutors said they would address the case by July 10; Akhmednabiyev was killed one day before that court hearing.
News reports also said that Akhmednabiyev's name had appeared on a "death list" published anonymously and distributed in the form of a handout in Makhachkala in September 2009. The handout, which named eight journalists among its targets, called for "destruction of the bandits and revenge for police officers and peaceful citizens." In December 2011, one journalist from that list, editor Gadzhimurad Kamalov, was murdered in Makhachkala.
Russia's Investigative Committee, a federal agency tasked with solving grave crimes, opened an investigation into Akhmednabiyev's killing and released a statement that said it considers journalism to be a likely motive. Regional prosecutors in Dagestan released a statement saying they would reopen their probe into the January 2013 attack against the journalist.