Vyacheslav Yaroshenko of "Korruptsiya i Prestupnost" (Corruption and Crime) in the city of Rostov-on-Don was found unconscious at the entrance to his apartment building on April 30. He had severe head wounds and was hospitalized with skull and brain trauma.
Yaroshenko's deputy, Sergei Sleptsov, said Yaroshenko’s condition had deteriorated recently and that he did not survive emergency surgery.
Sleptsov had said that Rostov police did not investigate what happened to Yaroshenko in April but had nevertheless ruled out criminality.
Sleptsov says he believes Yaroshenko was attacked in retaliation for the newspaper's investigations into corruption allegations involving law-enforcement agencies in the city.
“I don’t have even the smallest doubt,” Sleptsov told the opposition news website kasparov.ru. “Our newspaper was published on eight pages; seven of them were allotted to corruption in the law-enforcement structures.”
The U.S.-based watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists is calling for an independent investigation into Yaroshenko's death.
“We call on Russian federal authorities to open an independent, thorough, and transparent investigation into the circumstances of the editor’s death," says CPJ's Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, Nina Ognianova.
"The possibility that Yaroshenko may have been targeted because of his newspaper’s coverage of alleged corruption in Rostov law enforcement agencies calls for the assignment of outside, independent investigators to this case,” she said.
The CPJ says Russia is the third-deadliest country in the world for journalists after Iraq and Algeria and the ninth-worst for solving reporters' murders.
Last week, the group sent an open letter to U.S. President Barack Obama ahead of his July 6 visit to Moscow, urging him to address unsolved murders of correspondents with his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev.