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.