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Friends, Colleagues Bid Farewell To Russian Journalist Who Set Herself On Fire

People take part in a farewell ceremony for Koza Press editor Irina Slavina in Nizhny Novgorod on October 6.

NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia -- Hundreds of friends, relatives, and colleagues have bid farewell to Russian journalist Irina Slavina, who died after setting herself on fire in an apparent reaction to investigators trying to tie her to an opposition group.

Gleb Nikitin, the governor of the Nizhny Novgorod region, attended a ceremony honoring the chief editor of the Koza Press news website after vowing to do everything to find the cause of the tragedy.

Before setting herself on fire in front of the city police headquarters on October 2, Slavina wrote on Facebook, "Blame Russian Federation for my death."

A day earlier, she wrote on Facebook that a group of law enforcement officers searched her apartment, trying to find evidence linking her with the opposition Open Russia group and confiscated her computers and mobile phones.

"They left me without tools for my activities," Slavina wrote at the time, adding that she had never had anything to do with Open Russia.

Mourners Pay Tribute To Russian Journalist Who Died From Self-Immolation
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Andrei Pivovarov, the executive director of Open Russia, told the radio station Ekho Moskvy on October 2 that Slavina was not associated with his group.

One of Slavina's colleagues, Natalia Rezontova, told Ekho Moskvy on October 6 that Slavina's act of self-immolation was "the highest act of self-sacrifice."

"It was not a suicide.... She understood that she would not be allowed to work, to carry out her journalistic duties the way she wanted at her independent media outlet. It was her ultimate response to the system. What she chose was an excruciating death, but it was also a torch that must wake up, send a tough message to those who had mistreated her for...years," Rezontova said.

The Commission on Freedom of Speech and the Protection of Journalists and the Commission on Civil Rights at the presidential Council on Human Rights have called on the Investigative Committee to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding Slavina's self-immolation.