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25 Mar, 2008 19:13

Murdered reporter knew his killers: Police

Police say murdered Russian television reporter Ilyas Shurpayev knew his killers and appears to have let them into his home. The revelation comes as the body of the First Channel journalist is returned home to Dagestan for burial. Police say Shurpayev’s d

llyas Shurpayev was found strangled in his Moscow apartment on Friday.

The plane with his body on board landed in the capital Makhachkala on Tuesday afternoon. From the airport the coffin was taken to his parents house, where several hundred people had gathered, as well as his relatives his friends and colleagues from Moscow came to pay their final respects.

According to Muslim tradition he was buried before sunset.

The head of the Republic's state TV station, Gadzhi Abashilov, was shot dead in his car in the capital Makhachkala.

A reward of more than $US 400,000 has been offered by Gadzhi Abashilov’s local community for information about his murder.

Meanwhile, police investigating Shurpayev’s death  are looking at several possibilities, including personal contacts or his professional activities.

Both Shurpayev and Abashilov worked for state-run TV companies.

The police are not linking these two killings and have opened two separate criminal cases.

“Investigators are looking into several theories regarding Gadzhi Abashilov's murder, but it's most likely that it’s linked with his professional activities. All measures are being taken to identify and apprehend those responsible,” said Vladimir Markin, representative of the General Prosecutor’s Office.

Abashilov’s sister, Mariam Abashilova says they always worried about him. But he used to tell them: “I can’t live any other way. Who if not me?”

The European Union has urged Russia to do everything possible to find the murderers of the two journalists as soon as possible.

Russia ‘dangerous’ for journalists

Last year the International News Safety Institute published a rating which showed Russia as the second most dangerous county for journalists to work in.

The institute's report says that 88 out of the thousand journalists killed in the past ten years were working in Russia.

Two of the murders received international attention.
The first was the killing of Paul Khlebnikov – chief editor of the Russian edition of Forbes magazine. The American-born journalist was known for his investigations into corruption and organised crime in Russia.

The second was the murder of newspaper writer Anna Politkovskaya. A renowned critic of Vladimir Putin and the military campaign in the Chechen republic, she was killed outside her Moscow apartment in October 2006.