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Russia Refuses To Open Criminal Case Into Journalist's Self-Immolation

Irina Slavina set herself on fire in October.
Irina Slavina set herself on fire in October.

Russian investigators have decided not to open a criminal case into the self-immolation of a journalist who died early last month after setting herself on fire in an apparent reaction to being investigated by authorities, the family's lawyer says.

The lawyer of Irina Slavina's family told the Kommersant daily on November 16 that the Investigative Committee refused to launch a probe into possible incitement to suicide, which her colleagues, relatives, and rights activists have demanded.

The lawyer, Aleksandr Karavayev, quoted the investigators as saying there was no evidence that Slavina had been forced to commit suicide and that she "most likely had a mental condition."

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

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

Karavayev told Kommersant that the decision not to launch a probe into Slavina's self-immolation must be overturned.

Slavina's family insists the case be under the direct control of the Investigative Committee chief Aleksandr Bastrykin, the lawyer said.

The Trade Union of Russian Journalists issued a statement demanding "all individuals responsible for Slavina's death, namely those who launched investigations, signed orders, made decisions, conducted the humiliating search, all those who routinely had turned her life into hell, must be held accountable."

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.

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