Valery Ivanov

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Russian investigators have adopted a more serious tone when discussing unsolved journalist murders, but officials still lack the will to apprehend masterminds of the killings. The lack of convictions takes a serious toll on investigative journalism. By Nina Ognianova

Prosecutors say every lead has been pursued, every witness questioned in the slayings of editors Valery Ivanov and Aleksei Sidorov. But no one has ever been convicted, and no one can explain what investigators did with the most compelling lead. A CPJ special report by Nina Ognianova

Newspaper editors Valery Ivanov and Aleksei Sidorov were killed within 18 months of each other. To date, no one has been convicted in their cases. (AP/Tolyattinskoye Obozreniye)

Valery Ivanov and Aleksei Sidorov, both of whom were killed for their paper's hard-hitting coverage. (AP/Tolyattinskoye Obozreniye/Alexei Yablokov)
New York, December 8, 2010--Authorities with Russia's Investigative Committee must show evidence that they are legitimately investigating the consecutive murders of two editors of the independent newspaper Tolyattinskoye Obozreniye, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The Investigative Committee of Samara Region--which has jurisdiction over the cases of Valery Ivanov (killed in April 2002) and Aleksei Sidorov (killed in October 2003)--announced on November 18 that it had identified a circle of suspects in the murders.
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov confers with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Grozy. (RIA Novosti)By Nina Ognianova

The day before, Natalya Estemirova had seen off two colleagues from Moscow. Yelena Milashina, a reporter with the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, and Tanya Lokshina, an advocate with the international group Human Rights Watch, had traveled to Chechnya on separate assignments. Like many visiting journalists and human rights defenders, Milashina and Lokshina had stayed with Estemirova. Her Grozny apartment had become a headquarters for such visitors; Russian and international journalists often made it their first stop. Estemirova was their primary source, consultant, fixer, translator, protector.
Secrecy, indifference, conflicts mar investigations into journalist deaths. Moscow has a responsibility to uphold the rule of law. Its international partners have an obligation, too.

Valery Ivanov and Aleksei Sidorov were friends and colleagues, a pair of crusading editors out to expose crime and make a splash in Russia’s car-making capital. They were murdered 18 months apart.

Excerpts from the work of journalists slain in Russia since 2000

Nina Ognianova, CPJ's Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, provided testimony to the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe on the pressing issue of impunity in journalist murders in Russia. The commission held a hearing this week on Russia's human rights record. A transcript of the testimony follows:

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