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State investigators refuse to open criminal case over Russian journalist’s self-immolation

Source: Kommersant

The Nizhny Novgorod Region’s branch of the Investigative Committee has refused to launch a criminal case on incitement or inducement to suicide over the death of local journalist Irina Slavina, who self-immolated on October 2.

The lawyer for Slavina’s family, Alexander Karavaev, told the newspaper Kommersant that a state investigator signed the order on November 2, but the family was only informed on November 13. The document says that the investigator “didn’t see any objective evidence” that would confirm the elements of a crime. 

The independent journalists’ union demanded the initiation of a criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding Slavina’s death on the grounds that “the reason for Irina’s suicide was the continuous persecution and pressure on the journalist by government security structures.” 

The day before her suicide, Slavina’s apartment was searched in connection with a criminal investigation into the activities of an “undesirable organization.” The Investigative Committee’s order maintains that the law enforcement officials involved in the search “behaved correctly.”

At the same time, lawyer Alexander Karavaev claims that the Investigative Committee’s investigation is still ongoing and the Head of the Investigative Department, Vladimir Karpukhin, is preparing to annul the refusal to open a criminal case. “But there is no documentary confirmation of his words yet,” Karavaev told Kommersant.

Irina Slavina was a well-known journalist in Nizhny Novgorod and the editor-and-chief of Koza.Press, an online outlet covering politics and corruption in the region. On October 2, she wrote on Facebook: “For my death, please blame the Russian Federation.” Moments later, she set fire to herself outside of the local police headquarters. She died of her injuries on the scene.

According to friends and colleagues, Slavina faced constant pressure from the authorities over the past few years; she was also fined on multiple occasions for speaking out about sensitive topics on Facebook, as well as for her participation in public demonstrations and for various Koza.Press publications.

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