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Broadcast journalist killed

A Russian journalist allegedly committed suicide by falling out of a 14th-floor window to her death on 16 November in Kaliningrad. But outraged opposition critics and colleagues believe she was murdered, report the Centre for Journalism in Extreme Situations (CEJES) and the International Press Institute (IPI).

Broadcast journalist Olga Kotovskaya was the former editor-in-chief and creative director of an independent broadcaster, Kaskad. She formed Kaskad in 1991 with a group of colleagues, and it became a powerful media group comprised of two television channels, a daily newspaper, two radio stations and an advertising agency.

According to CJES and IPI, Kotovskaya had been entangled in a lawsuit with the Kaliningrad region's former vice-governor, Vladimir Pirogov. He took control of Kaskad in 2006 using board documents that Kotovskaya said contained forged signatures. A week before she died, the courts upheld Kotovskaya's forgery claims, creating the possibility of her resuming control of Kaskad.

Igor Rostov, Kotovskaya's husband and former co-owner of Kaskad, said:"She was murdered. If I am found dead on the rails, do not believe that I committed suicide.

Oppositions activists also insist she was murdered for her journalistic activities, reports CEJES. "The fact that violence against journalists and owners of media outlets has become the norm in the Kaliningrad region and is almost never punished should at least attract the attention of the authorities and the appropriate bodies," Mikhail Chesalin, a member of the local parliament, told "Nezavisimaya Gazeta".

Investigators are now considering all possibilities for the journalist's death as a result of public pressure. Russia has a long history of impunity and is Europe's most deadly country for journalists.

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