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Kingston, Jamaica, 14 May {No. 96-87}- Director-General Federico Mayor today deplored the recent murders of journalists in Russia, in particular in Chechnya, and in Ukraine.

Viktor Mikhailov, a reporter for a Siberian newspaper, was murdered on 11 May in the town of Chita, near Lake Baikal, while researching a story on crime in the region, according to media reports. They also said that Igor Grouchetsky, a freelance journalist in Ukraine known for his reporting on crime and corruption, was found slain last week southwest of Kiev, while Russian correspondent Nina Yefimova, a contributor to the newspaper Vozrozhdeni, was shot in the head on 8 May in Grozny.

"I deplore these barbarous murders of journalists slain in the act of reporting on situations that require an informed public," Mr Mayor said while attending the UNESCO Conference of Latin American and Caribbean Ministers of Education here. "The free flow of information so vital to democracy cannot exist when reporters are not free to exercise their profession without intimidation and violence. I extend my condolences to the families of the victims."

Mr Mayor recalled that during the observance of World Press Freedom Day last 3 May at UNESCO, two Russian participants referred to the dangers confronted by journalists in the region. Both Vsevolod Bogdanov, president of the Union of Russian Journalists, and Igor Yakovlev, editor-in-chief of Obshchaia Gazeta, denounced the attempts of organized crime to cow and silence the press through violence.


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