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Editor succumbs to head injuries

A leading editor who reported on corruption in southwestern Russia succumbed to head injuries he suffered in an attack in April, report the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Vyacheslav Yaroshenko, editor-in-chief of the independent Rostov-on-Don newspaper "Korruptsiya i Prestupnost" (Corruption and Crime), was found unconscious with a head wound in the entrance of his apartment building on 30 April. He was hospitalised with skull and brain trauma, underwent surgery, and spent five days in a coma, his deputy, Sergei Sleptsov, told CPJ at the time.

On 29 June, Yaroshenko was operated on again, but did not survive.

According to CPJ, Sleptsov said he believes Yaroshenko was attacked in retaliation for his newspaper's work. In the weeks before the incident, "Korruptsiya i Prestupnost" had reported on corruption allegations involving Rostov law enforcement agencies. "I don't have even the smallest doubt," Sleptsov told the opposition news website Kasparov. "Our newspaper was published on eight pages; seven of them were allotted to corruption in the law enforcement structures."

Rostov law enforcement officials have given conflicting accounts of what happened to Yaroshenko in April, first saying that he was injured in a street fight, then later that he hurt himself by falling down the stairs in his apartment building. According to Sleptsov, they had immediately ruled out criminality.

Sleptsov said that the paper is carrying out its own investigation into the editor's death.

Russia is the third deadliest country in the world for journalists and the ninth worst in solving reporters' killings, according to CPJ. In a 25 June letter, CPJ urged U.S. President Barack Obama to address the pressing issue of impunity in violent crimes against the press when he meets with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow this week.

Meanwhile, Russia's Supreme Court has overturned the acquittals of three men accused of involvement in the October 2006 murder of reporter Anna Politkovskaya, allegedly because of procedural violations during the trial, reports CPJ.

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