Russian President Vladimir Putin has given the country's highest award to a police officer who was killed by militants after refusing to renounce his duties.
Police Lieutenant Magomed Nurbagandov from the North Caucasus region of Daghestan was captured by Islamic militants and shot dead near Daghestan's eastern village of Sergokala in July.
Security services later killed three militants during an operation in the nearby city of Izberbash, according to the Interior Ministry. In a video found in the phone of one of the militants, the captors demanded that Nurbagandov urge his colleagues to resign from the police and he defied them, saying: "Keep on working, brothers!" before being killed.
During the September 22 award ceremony at the Kremlin, Putin praised the officer as a model for others and handed the Hero of Russia medal to his parents.
Daghestan has been at the epicenter of a wave of violence by armed criminal groups and by militants seeking to establish an Islamic caliphate in the North Caucasus.
Organized crime, business turf wars, political disputes, and clan rivalry also contribute to the bloodshed in the region.