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Putin Wins Satirical Prize For Obstructing Free Press --> Putin was singled out for hampering press freedoms (AFP) June 18, 2007 - Russia's President Vladimir Putin has been awarded the "Closed Oyster," a satirical prize granted by a German media group for obstructing freedom of the press.

Netzwerk Recherche, a small German journalists' organization that promotes investigative journalism, singled out Putin for "hampering the development of free media" and allowing a "lack of results in the investigation into the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya."

Putin is the first non-German to receive the organization's negative prize.

In December 2006, the Paris-based nongovernmental organization Reporters Without Borders called attention to the extent to which the Russian government and state-run corporations have taken over the country's main electronic and print media, greatly limiting the amount of independent news and information available to the public.

(compiled from agency reports,

Culture Of Impunity
Slain journalist Dmitry Kholodov (ITAR-TASS)

RUSSIA'S SLAIN JOURNALISTS: The International Federation of Journalists has launched an international commission to investigate impunity in the killings of five journalists in Russia whose cases remain unresolved:

Dmitry Kholodov

Kholodov, a reporter with "Moskovsky komsomolets" in the Russian capital, died on October 17, 1994, when a booby-trapped briefcase he had been given by a source exploded in the newspaper's offices. Kholodov was investigating allegations of corruption in the upper echelons of the Russian military, including Pavel Grachev, then the defense minister. Six army officers were charged with involvement in the killing, but were twice acquitted by military courts. The Russian Prosecutor-General's Office launched a new probe in January 2006.

Vladimir Kirsanov

On May 17, 2001, Kirsanov, the founder and editor in chief of the "Kurganskiye vesti" independent newspaper, vanished outside his office. Kirsanov had been reporting on alleged criminal activities by local officials in the Ural city of Kurgan, and had been threatened on numerous occasions. The Federal Security Service, the Interior Ministry, and organized crime units all took place in the investigation of Kirsanov's disappearance, but the case has never been solved.

Eduard Markevich

Markevich, the editor and publisher of "Novy reft," a local newspaper in the town of Reftinskiy, in Sverdlovsk Oblast, was found dead on September 18, 2001. He had been shot in the back. "Novy reft" was often critical of local officials and Markevich, 29, had reported receiving threatening telephone calls. In 1998, two unknown assailants had broken into his apartment and beaten him up in front of his pregnant wife.

Valery Ivanov
Aleksei Sidorov

Ivanov and Sidorov, journalists with the "Tolyattinskoye obozreniye" newspaper in the industrial city of Tolyatti, were both killed over the course of 18 months. On April 29, 2002, 32-year-old Ivanov, the paper's editor in chief and a deputy in the local legislative assembly, was shot eight times in the head at point-blank range. His close friend and editorial successor, 31-year-old Sidorov, was killed on October 9, 2003, after being stabbed in the chest with an ice pick.

"Tolyattinskoye obozreniye" was known for its investigative reports on crime and government corruption. Sidorov was also known to be investigating Ivanov's murder at the time of his death. Journalists believe the deaths of both editors were meant as retaliation for the newspaper's work. A local factory welder was charged with Sidorov's murder, but was acquitted. No one has ever been implicated in Ivanov's murder.