Well-known Russian journalist, blogger, and Internet pioneer Anton Nosik has died in Moscow at the age of 51.
Nosik's friend and current owner of The Moscow Times and Vedomosti newspapers Demyan Kudryavtsev posted on Twitter on July 9 that Nosik died during the night of July 8-9.
"Yes it's true, Anton Nosik died in Moscow last night," Kudryavtsev said.
According to preliminary information, Nosik died of a sudden heart attack. The Interfax news agency reported that investigators had so far found no evidence of criminal activity in Nosik’s death.
“He was a true professional, Russian Internet pioneer, a remarkable and talented man. The creation of well-known online resources and projects, which enjoy popularity with people of different generations and convictions, is linked with his name," Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev said in a Facebook post.
Since the late 1990s, Nosik had played important roles in the founding of several pioneering Russian Internet projects, including Newsru.com, Lenta.ru, and Gazeta.ru.
In recent years, he published a blog on the website of Ekho Moskvy.
Russian opposition activist Aleksei Navalny described Nosik, who was born in Moscow and moved to Israel in the early 1990s, as his mentor, saying "he had a decisive influence on my views and activities connected to the internet and journalism."
Nosik often courted controversy with his views.
In 2016, a Moscow court found him guilty of extremism and fined him half a million rubles ($8,000), later reduced by an appeals court to 300,000 rubles, over a blog post titled “Wipe Syria Off The Face Of The Earth.”
Nosik denied the charge of extremism throughout his trial, but stood by his blog post, which was published after Russia launched a campaign of air strikes in Syria on September 30, 2015.
In his blog post, Nosik said he "warmly welcomes" any bombing in Syria regardless of the loss of civilian life or infrastructure because he deems Syria a threat to Israel.
Nosik was also a sharp critic of the Russian government's moves to crack down on Internet freedoms through harsh legislative regulation, telling the AFP news agency in 2014 that "Russia's shift to the North Korean model of managing the Internet will have far-reaching consequences for the country's economy and public sentiment."
With reporting by the BBC and AFP