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Dmitry Tsilikin

A well-known independent Russian journalist has been found dead in his apartment in St. Petersburg.

Investigators said on April 1 that Dmitry Tsilikin, 54, had suffered multiple stab wounds and appeared to have been dead for at least two days.

His body was found on March 31 by relatives -- and his laptop computer and mobile phone were missing, according to the city Investigative Committee.The death was being investigated as a murder, it said.

Relatives told the St. Petersburg news portal that they had last been in contact with him last week, as he returned from a work trip to Riga, Latvia.

Tsilikin reported on culture and music and also contributed to independent media outlets, writing mainly about social issues and civil rights.

His articles were published in popular newspapers such as Chas Pik, Kommersant, The Moscow News, and Vedomosti, among others.

He was also a host of two popular programs on Russia’s RTR television channel in 2001-2003.

Tsilikin appeared frequently on roundtable discussions and other programs hosted by RFE/RL's Russian Service.

A total of 36 journalists have been murdered in Russia since 1992, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Many of the masterminds behind the killings have never been identified.

APPROVED: Pro-Putin supporters rally in Yekaterinburg. (file photo)

Protesting in support of Vladimir Putin? OK.

Protesting that Barack Obama is the main enemy of Russia? OK.

Protesting for Putin’s resignation? No way.

Political demonstrations in Russia are a fraught matter these days, not to mention arbitrary, as journalists in the country’s fourth-largest city have found.

Nearly two years after President Putin toughened criminal penalties for some forms of public demonstrations, reporters at the news portal, in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg, set about trying to highlight the vagaries of the new rules.

A law passed in 2014, and another Putin signed two years earlier, followed large-scale demonstrations in Moscow in 2011 and 2012 against what organizers said were dubious parliamentary elections, as well as the vote that returned Putin to the Kremlin for a third term. They were the largest antigovernment protests in Russia since Putin was first elected in 2000.

The Yekaterinburg local legislature, dominated by lawmakers from the country’s Kremlin-backed ruling party, approved legislation last year that gave the governor of the Sverdlovsk region, where the city is located, discretion to approve the nature of such protests.

Under the project, titled Crash-Test Democracy, the Yekaterinburg reporters set out to see which protest themes would be green-lighted by authorities in the city of 1.4 million ahead of elections scheduled for later this year.

They initially came up with anodyne themes such as animal rights (“In Defense Of The Rights Of Transsexual Animals”) or calling for the pope to be “returned to the lap of the Russian Orthodox Church.”

Later, they decided on 18 specific political themes, submitting an equal number of separate written applications on March 21 to the Department of Public Security for Sverdlovsk Oblast. According to the website, the applications were rejected on minor technicalities a few days later.

After resubmitting the forms, the reporters received a formal response that outright rejected three proposed protests: “Resign Putin"; "In Support Of Tightening U.S. Sanctions Policy Against Russia”; and another that called on the presidential envoy to the Ural Mountains region to “go back to the factory!”

The reasons given, according the reporters, was that the protests violated the federal constitution and “may be interpreted as aimed at undermining the security of the state.”

Among those approved, meanwhile, were “Vladimir Putin Is Our President” and “Obama Is The Main Enemy of Russia.” Also green-lighted was one that criticized local lawmakers (“Deputies Are the Enemies Of The People”), one in support of local lawmakers (“They Promised; They Delivered”), as well as the more innocent “In Support Of the Happy Future Of Sverdlovsk Oblast.”

(Another proposed demonstration calling for the resignation of the Sverdlovsk governor was tentatively approved, but would have to be held not outside the governor’s residence, as proposed, but in a city park.)

“We, of course, took back all our applications because, honestly speaking, picketing in support or in opposition of someone or other wasn’t in our plans,” the website said, addressing its readers. “We don’t want to get involved in a preelection war under banners with political slogans.

“However, now you know what you can and can’t yell out at meetings and pickets in Yekaterinburg,” it said.

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About This Blog

"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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