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2 Oct, 2020 18:49

‘I ask that Russia be blamed for my death’: Russian journalist SETS HERSELF ON FIRE in front of regional police office

‘I ask that Russia be blamed for my death’: Russian journalist SETS HERSELF ON FIRE in front of regional police office

A journalist from Nizhny Novgorod has died after setting herself alight in front of a police station, blaming the authorities for her death. The Russian Investigative Committee denies the incident is tied to any police action.

Irina Slavina, the editor-in-chief of small local news outlet, Koza.Press, traveled to a regional police headquarters in the central Russian city and set herself on fire. The woman died at the scene.

Earlier, Slavina wrote on her Facebook page that “I ask that the Russian Federation be blamed for my death,” without providing any further explanation. The bizarre incident came a day after investigators searched the journalist’s apartment as part of a probe launched against a local businessman.

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The law enforcement officers seized notebooks, smartphones and a computer belonging to Slavina and her family members, prompting the journalist to write a somewhat sarcastic comment just a day before the tragedy. “They were looking for brochures, leaflets and probably an icon of Mikhail Khodorkovsky,” she wrote in another social media post, referring to the disgraced ex-1990s oligarch currently residing in Switzerland.

The search was linked to a case opened by local police looking into the activities of the ‘Open Russia’ activist group founded by Khodorkovsky, with which local businessman Mikhail Iosilevich was supposedly involved. The UK-based organization has been banned in Russia. However, a Moscow-based outfit also linked to the ex-oligarch, which also happens to bear the name ‘Open Russia’, has never been officially banned and continues its activities in Russia.

The news immediately prompted some Russian activists and public figures to declare Slavina a victim of state persecution. A founder of rights group ‘Gulagu.net’, Vladimir Osechkin, filed a formal complaint with the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office and the Investigative Committee’s head, arguing the journalist was “forced to commit suicide.”

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The head of the organisation monitoring violations committed by the security and law enforcement services stated that the Russian authorities “systemically abuse their power” to supposedly intimidate “political undesirables.”

Such accusations were brushed off by the Investigative Committee as “baseless.” The law enforcement agency said the incident cannot be linked to the recent police raid, since Slavina was not a suspect in any case and no charges were brought against her. It also confirmed that the journalist was a witness in the ongoing probe against Iosilevich and his supposed involvement in the activities of ‘Open Russia’.

The investigators have requested a posthumous psychiatric examination of Slavina to try and determine potential motives for her actions.

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