In 1991, Akhmednabiev founded the weekly Novoe delo (New Business). He also wrote for the news portal website called Kavkazskiy Uzel (Caucasian Knot). His articles detailed the continuing low-level Islamist insurgency, high levels of organized crime and endemic corruption plaguing the region. Akhmednabi Akhmednabiev was one of few journalists in Dagestan that dared writing about human rights violations and other crimes committed by authorities.
He had reported on the abductions and other abuses committed by security forces in the name of the fight against Islamist extremism.
After surviving the attempt on his life in January, he accused the authorities of hypocrisy: "When militants break the law - in a way they play according to their own rules - they say 'we will not obey your law.' So it is naive to demand that they respect the rules.
"But it is a different situation when our law-enforcement personnel blatantly break the law. It is naive for them, who have the duty to defend the law as part of their job, to demand that other people respect the law."
Many of the reporters and editors murdered in Russia have been killed in the troubled North Caucasus.
In September of 2009, Akhmednabiev along with 16 appeared on a kill list distributed around Makhachkala. The hit list included lawyers and human rights defenders. In December 2011, publisher of the independent newspaper Chernovik, Gadjimurad Kamalov was killed for his work.
On December 5, 2012, Kazbek Gekkiyev, a news anchor for a regional affiliate of state-owned broadcaster VGTRK was killed after being shot three times in the head when returning from work in Nalchik, the capital of the North Caucasus Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria. The man suspected of killing him was himself gunned down two months later, Vesti reported.
The anonymous authors called for the “exterminat[ion of] bandits [and their alleged consorts] and vengeance for [killed] policemen.” At the time, Akhmednabiev and Kamalov indicated they had no doubt that “the special services” were behind that list. Thus far the police have not arrested anyone in connection with the kill list.
Failed Attempts on his life
11 January 2013, unknown assailants tried to shoot him three times onlydamaging his car. Akhmednabi Akhmednabiev survived without any injuries though other news outlets have reported a second attempt.
Speaking after his death, a colleague named Sagitov recalled: “He said that he will remain here, no matter what. I think he understood that something like this could happen to him,”
There is no inquiry into the attempted murder. The investigation focused only on two counts Article 167, Section 1 (‘destruction or damage to property with intent’) of the Criminal Code and Article 222, Section 1 (‘Illegal acquisition, transfer, distribution, keeping, transport or carrying weapons’). Akhmednabiev’s lawyer, Abdurashid Sheikhov, lodged a complaint with the prosecutor’s office in an attempt to obtain the reclassification of the investigation. There has been no response.
At 7:00 a.m. July 9, 2013, on the first day of Muslims' holy month of Ramadan, Akhmednabiev had just started the engine of his car when the unidentified assailants opened fire. Bullets struck Akhmednabiev several times in the head. He died on the spot The attack took place on the same site as January's failed assassination just 50 metres from his house in Semender, a suburb in Makhachkala in Dagestan, Russia.
Finally, after Akhmednabiev's murder, the prosecutor opened a criminal investigation under three articles of the Criminal Code: Article 105 (‘murder’). ITAR-TASS reports the federal-level Investigative Committee is taking the lead in the investigation into the killing of Akhmednabiev. So far no arrests have been made.
Akhmednabiev was the 17th journalist to be killed or die in suspicious circumstances in Dagestan since 1993.
Akhmednabiev’s lawyer Abdurashid Sheikhov won his complaint against the prosecutor for failing to open a murder investigation for the January 11, 2013 assassination attempt. Yet the prosecutor in defiance of the judicial decision against him has open a murder investigation for the January 11, 2013 assassination attempt. Abdurashid Sheikhov has filed a second complaint.
“I am convinced that Akhmednabiev’s murder is the result of negligence on the part of our security forces,” Sheikhov said in an interview with Kavkaz-uzel
“It is imperative that the Dagestan justice authorities get to the bottom of this crime. In many attacks and murders, the local and federal authorities have unfortunately not always shown the necessary determination to put an end to violence against journalists. The justice authorities must do all in their power to end this spiral of violence against those involved in news and information.”
He had received death threats in May 2012 and immediately reported them to police. Law enforcement authorities did not effectively investigate either the threats or the subsequent shooting. Akhmednabiev’s lawyer, Abdurashid Sheikhov, told Caucasian Knot that the murder would not have occurred if not for the “negligence of the entire law enforcement system.”
"This was clearly a targeted killing," said Grigory Shvedov, editor of the Caucasian Knot. “We have paid the price of an incompetent justice system.”
Abdulla Duduev, the chief editor of DOSH magazine: "there are serious suspicions about who was involved in Akhmednabiev's assassination, as he actively reported on human rights violations and repressions against Muslims by the police and Russian army.
"No one believes this is simply the act of criminal gunmen."
Reporters Without Borders
“The Russian Caucasus has lost a first-class journalist who tackled difficult subjects such as human right violations and electoral fraud,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We with to convey our sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.
“All the staff and contributors at Novoe Delo are deeply shocked,” the deputy editor, Ragimat Adamova, told Reporters Without Borders. “We have no doubt that Akmednabi’s murder was linked to his work. He was the paper’s political editor and wrote widely about the rights of Muslims and extra-judicial shootings. His latest story, published on 5 July, was critical of the region’s governor. He said the governor might lead them to those behind an assassination attempt against him on 11 January this year.”
Civil Rights Defenders
Civil Rights Defenders expresses our deepest concern over the murder of Akhmednabi Akhmednabiev and call on the Russian authorities to immediately initiate prompt and correct investigations into the case.
“We are deeply worried about the lack of safety of journalists and other human rights defenders in Dagestan and other parts of the North Caucasus”, says Robert Hårdh, Executive Director. “They work amid a culture of fear, which is fuelled by violence and killings. It is high time for Russian authorities to take serious measures to protect human rights defenders in the region.”
Akhmednabi Akhmednabiev is the second killing of a journalist in Dagestan in a short period of time and represents yet another serious blow to independent journalism and freedom of speech in the republic of Dagestan.
There is a clear pattern of increased violence and threats towards human rights defenders and journalists in Dagestan.
“We urge the local and federal Russian authorities to immediately ensure prompt and correct investigations of the murder of Akhmednabi Akhmednabiev," says Robert Hårdh, Executive Director.
“In accordance with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, Russia must take all necessary measures to ensure the protection of human rights defenders and contribute to an environment in which human rights defenders can work safely.”
Memorial Human Rights Centre
In a statement, the Memorial Human Rights Centre said: "Murdering a journalist is always cruel; it is even crueller as it happened on the first day of Ramadan, a sacred month for all Muslims.
"Akhmednabi Akhmednabiev was one of the few journalists in Dagestan who reported on 'anti-terror' measures and how 'fighting terrorism' was used as a pretext for persecution of religious communities and mass violations of human rights."
In a statement, Memorial Human Rights Centre said: “Murdering a journalist is always cruel; it is even crueller as it happened on the first day of Ramadan, a sacred month for all Muslims. Akhmednabi Akhmednabiev was one of the few journalists in Dagestan who reported on ‘anti-terror’ measures and how ‘fighting terrorism’ was used as a pretext for persecution of religious communities and mass violations of human rights.”
Russian NGO Human Rights Centre Memorial
The Russian NGO Human Rights Centre Memorial in its statement of condolences lauds the achievements of Akhmednabi describing him as “one of the few journalists in Dagestan who wrote about the costs of counter-terrorism, the persecution under this pretext of whole religious communities, and mass human rights violations.”
“For many years Akhmednabiev courageously reported on abuses and lawlessness in Dagestan, Russia’s most intense hot spot,” said Tanya Lokshina, Russia program director at Human Rights Watch. “His brazen murder cannot but relate to his work in journalism.”
Russia should abide by its pledge to ensure full accountability for attacks on journalists and foster a normal working climate for independent media and human rights defenders in the region, Human Rights Watch said.
“The authorities’ indifference to the killings of journalists and whistleblowers perpetuates impunity and inspires new attacks,” Lokshina said. “The North Caucasus region is one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the world, and it is no wonder, if law enforcement authorities aren’t doing their job.”
“Russian authorities have made repeated promises to prosecute and prevent attacks on journalists, including in the North Caucasus,” Lokshina said. “But they have a long way to go to show that ‘special control’ means something more than window dressing, and that killers can be brought to account.”
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) condemned the killing in a statement posted on its website. “I am alarmed that yet another journalist has been killed in Russia,” said the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatović. “This murder is a horrid reminder that much more needs to be done in Russia to ensure and guarantee the safety of journalists.”
"I am alarmed that yet another journalist has been killed in Russia," said Dunja Mijatović, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's representative on freedom of the media.
"This murder is a horrid reminder that much more needs to be done in Russia to ensure and guarantee the safety of journalists."
Russia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a journalist. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 54 reporters have been killed in Russia since 1992, with 16 cases still unsolved.
The feeling is that someone is trying to completely block the already thin trickle of information about this aspect of life in the republic, which is for one a prison cell, and for another, a bullet.
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