Russian TV journalist murdered in his apartment in Moscow

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Moscow, Mar 21 (UNI) Russian journalist Ilyas Shurpayev working in state TV Channel was found dead in his apartment in the northeast here, Russian news agencies reported today.

Directors of the Channel One news programmes said they were informed about the crime and would closely watch the investigation.

''According to a preliminary forensic medical examination, Shurpayev was strangled with a belt,'' a police source said, adding a fire had started at the scene of the crime, but it was extinguished before it could spread.

A spokesperson for the Russian Prosecutor General's Office said a murder investigation had been launched.

A source in the investigating team told RIA Novosti news agency that one of the theories being considered was that the murder was connected with the journalist's professional activities.

Shurpayev, 32, was known for his reports from Russia's North Caucasus republic of Daghestan and Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia.

According to the international rights organisation Reporters Without Borders, 21 journalists were murdered in Russia between 2000 and 2007.

The most high-profile of these was the murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who gained international recognition for her outspoken criticism of the Kremlin and claims of state-backed atrocities against civilians in Chechnya.

She was gunned down at the entrance of her Moscow apartment building in October 2006.

UNI XC SYU AS1706

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