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Prosecutors Had Threatened Dead Russian Journalist

Correspondent Ivan Safronov (file photo) (ITAR-TASS) March 6, 2007 -- Colleagues of a Russian journalist who died when he fell from a fifth-floor window say he had been threatened with prosecution over investigative stories he was writing about alleged Russian weapons deals with Syria.

Ivan Safronov, who covered defense issues for the Russian daily "Kommersant," died on March 2 when he fell from a window of his Moscow apartment building.

"Kommersant" reports today that Safronov had told colleagues he had been threatened with criminal charges if his stories were published with allegations that Russia had made a deal to supply advanced missiles to Syria.

The newspaper says Safronov also had been investigating alleged Russian plans to use Belarus as an intermediary in the sale of missiles to Iran and fighter jets to Syria.

The Russian Journalists' Union says it will conduct its own investigation into Safronov's death.

The group says its investigation will not hinder the official probe by Russian prosecutors.

(AP, Interfax, "Kommersant")

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