Russian Journalist Dead After Unexplained Fall

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A Russian investigative journalist has died in hospital after falling from the balcony of his fifth-floor flat.

Maksim Borodin, 32, who had written about the deaths of Russian mercenaries in Syria, was discovered by neighbours, badly injured from his fall, on the streets of Yekaterinburg on April 12.

He was rushed to hospital, where he died three days later.

According to RFERL, local authorities have dismissed foul play, and are treating the death as a suicide. 

But Polina Rumyantseva, editor-in-chief of news website Novy Den, where Borodin worked, has dismissed the possibility that he took his own life. There was also no suicide note found at the scene.

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Vyacheslav Bashkov, a friend of Borodin’s, has also said that the journalist had contacted him two days before his death, saying that there was ‘someone with a weapon on his (Borodin’s) balcony, and people in camouflage and masks on the staircase landing’. Bashkov also claims Borodin had asked him to contact a lawyer.

Borodin had recently written about the ‘Wagner Group’,  a Russian mercenary company that operated in Syria last year. Members of the group had reportedly been killed in Deir-es-Zour province while engaging with US forces on 7 February.

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Mike Pompeo, the outgoing head of the CIA,  said last week that ‘a couple hundred’ Russians died in the clash. This contrasts with a Russian claim, made at the time, that ‘several dozen’ Russian nationals were killed.

Last month, Borodin wrote that three of those killed had come from the Sverdlovsk region in the Urals, in which Yekaterinburg is the main city.

Much of Russia’s media is state-controlled. In Freedom House listings, the country ranks 83rd out of 100 countries in press freedom.

Journalists are also frequently killed in Russia. Four journalists died last year alone, including Dmitry Popkov, who was found dead from gunshot wounds near his home in Minusisnk on 10 March, 2017.

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