UNESCO chief denounces killing of Russian journalist in North Caucasus region

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. Photo: UNESCO/Francis Barrier

11 December 2012 – The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom today denounced the murder of a Russian journalist in Russia’s North Caucasus region and urged authorities to do their utmost to bring his killers to justice.

“The murder of Kazbek Gekkiyev must not go unpunished,” said the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova.

“I am encouraged by the rapid reaction of the Russian authorities, who pledged immediately that the crime would be investigated,” she added. “Bringing the perpetrators to justice will send a clear sign to those who commit such acts that attempting to silence the media is not an option.”

According to UNESCO, Mr. Gekkiyev, a television news presenter covering social issues for a regional branch of the All-Russia State Television and Radio Company (VGTRK), was shot dead on 5 December as he returned home from work with a friend in Nalchik, capital of the Republic of Karbardino-Balkaria.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports that he was shot in the head by two gunmen, who had first checked his identity, UNESCO noted, adding that the journalist’s friend was left unharmed. The CPJ has reported that several VGTRK journalists have quit their jobs over the past year after receiving threats against their lives.

“The rights to freedom of expression, and the right of journalists to carry out their professional duties without fearing for their lives, are fundamental conditions for everyone to live in informed and peaceful societies,” Ms. Bokova said.

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