The murder earlier this month of Russian “news reader” Kazbek Gekkiyev could be seen as a warning to journalists who cover the Islamic insurgency in the North Caucasus region.
Gekkiyev had finished work at the state-run local TV channel in the regional capital Nalchik in Kabardino-Balkaria Wednesday evening December 5 when he was approached by two men as he was walking home who asked him who he was. When he identified himself one of them shot him several times according to witnesses. He died before help could arrive.
The Guardian which reported on the story (along with the New York Times in the link above) wrote, Russia’s investigative committee said it saw the attack on Gekkiyev as a warning to others. “This audacious crime can be seen as a threat to other journalists who cover operations against the bandits acting on the republic’s territory,” it said in a statement.
Gekkiyev’s colleagues said they were baffled by his death. “He didn’t carry out investigations, didn’t gather material on criminal themes,” Zhanna Gulyaeva, a colleague, told Izvestiya, a Russian newspaper. “We have guys that put together rather sharp material, go on special operations, do standups and live broadcasts. We have no idea why this happened to Kazbek.”
According to Reporters Without Borders the North Caucasus region is one of the most dangerous regions of Russia for those working in the media. In 2011 another journalist, Khadzhimurad Kamalov was murdered and as yet no one has been brought to justice.
Freelance Mexican journalist Adrián Silva Moreno was murdered in November according to a report from CPJ. Moreno and a companion were gunned down shortly after he had gathered information on large-scale gasoline theft and witnessed a standoff between soldiers and a gunman in the central Mexican state of Puebla.
As CPJ reports, Eloísa Rodríguez Zamora, a local radio reporter, said Silva had been covering an army investigation into the theft of gasoline from a government petroleum company in the town of Tehuacán. Theft of gasoline from government pipelines is common in the area, which is controlled by organized crime groups, according to local journalists.
After leaving the scene, Silva called Rodríguez to say he had seen an armed stand-off between soldiers at a nearby roadblock and gunmen in an SUV and a Ford Lobo pickup truck, she said. It was unclear if the confrontation was related to the gasoline theft. She said that Silva told her that he had found something very important at the scene of the theft but would explain later. Six minutes later, Rodríguez said, she heard from police reports that a man had been shot at that location.
Silva was shot as he sat in the driver’s seat, local journalists told CPJ. His passenger, Misray López González, ran for a block but was also shot to death, the journalists said.
Reporters Without Borders which also ran a story on the murder of Moreno reported, Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Puntual journalist who had worked with Silva on crime stories told Reporters Without Borders that his murder may have been ordered.