Russian prosecutors halt probe into reporter's death

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MOSCOW, Sep 12 (Reuters) Russian prosecutors have halted an investigation into the suspicious death of a defence reporter who fell from his apartment building in March, his newspaper reported today.

The criminal case into the death of Ivan Safronov, defence correspondent for Kommersant newspaper, was halted because he died ''as a result of his suicidal actions'', the daily reported, quoting the Moscow central district prosecutor's office.

The daily has said Safronov was working on a sensitive story about Russian arms sales when he died. Colleagues at Kommersant and his relatives had complained the death was never properly investigated.

Prosecutors said a security camera at the entrance of his Moscow apartment building revealed nothing suspicious and said students had seen Safronov fall from a window in the stairwell between the fourth and fifth floors.

Kommersant's editor, Andrei Vassilyev, did not wish to comment when contacted by Reuters.

Aged 51, the former Russian space forces colonel lived on the fourth floor and had just returned from a shopping trip carrying a bag of oranges.

Russian reporter Anna Politkovskaya was shot dead in October in a contract-style killing at her apartment block in Moscow.

Media watchdog, the Campaign for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), said Safronov had been interrogated many times by the Federal Security Service (FSB) for disclosing state secrets in his articles.

''Relatives, friends, and colleagues said Safronov had no reason to commit suicide. He had no personal enemies, no debts, and no life-threatening disease. He had been married for a long time, had two adult children, and was expecting his first grandchild. He did not leave a suicide note,'' CPJ said after his death.

REUTERS SG RK1515

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