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Russia remembers journalists who died while performing their line of duty

December 15, 2013, 7:38 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The day was instituted in 1991 following a decision of the Russian Union of Journalists
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MOSCOW, December 15, 7:19 /ITAR-TASS/. Russia will remember journalists who died while performing their professional duty on Sunday. The day was instituted in 1991 following a decision of the Russian Union of Journalists.

The tradition goes back to December 11, 1991 when relatives and colleagues of dead media workers gathered for their first memorial meeting to pay tribute to TV correspondent Viktor Nogin and operator Gennady Kurennoi who died at the hands of militants in the territory of the former Yugoslavia in September 1991. Over the past few years, Journalists’ Remembrance Day has been marked on December 15.

Pavel Gusev, a Public Chamber member, who is chairman of the Moscow Union of Journalists and editor-in-chief of the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily, told Itar-Tass on Saturday that journalism continued to be the most dangerous profession. The murder of Kazbek Gekkiyev, the presenter of the Vesti Kabardino-Balkaria news programme, a subsidiary of the VGTRK (the Russian State Television and Radio Company) on December 5, 2012 was one of the most high-profile crimes against media workers committed over the past few years.

“Media workers often receive threats. Unfortunately, threats are not a sufficient reason for police to start an investigation. High-profile cases remain unexposed while criminals continue attacking journalists with impunity,” Gusev went on to say.

“This situation should certainly change. It is necessary to carry out a thorough investigation into each attack and each threat, let alone a murder. Criminals should be punished according to the law,” Gusev said.

“We honor the memory of Vladislav Listyev, Dmitry Kholodov, Larisa Yudina, Anna Politkovskaya, Natalya Estemirova, Anastasiya Baburova and many other talented Russian journalists. The main task facing the society today is to avert the recurrence of such tragic incidents,” Gusev said.

A source at the Foundation for the Protection of Glasnost (openness) told Itar-Tass that more than 60 attacks had been made against journalists this year. They included employees of the newspapers Novaya Gazeta, Vedomosti, Moskovsky Komsomolets, Komsomolskaya Pravda as well as journalists of the First TV Channel, REN-TV, TVTS and NTV television and the Ekho Moskvy radio station. According to the organization, three journalists were killed in Russia in a period from January to November 2013. They included Konstantin Bauer, an employee of the Lesosibirsk city radio and television company; Nikolai Potapov, the editor-in-chief of the Stavropol newspaper Selsovet; and Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev, an observer of the Dagestani newspaper “Novoye Dyelo” (New Cause).

Memorial meetings for journalists who died performing their line of duty will be held in all Russian regions on Sunday. In Moscow, a memorial meeting will be held at the Central House of Journalists. “This sad day reminds all of us how fragile a human life is and how fast and suddenly it can end. On this day, we should also remember how dangerous the profession of a journalist is,” the Russian Union of Journalists said.

“December 15 is a special day in the life of our community. It is not only a day of grief and bright memory. It is a day when we can also be proud of our profession,” the Russian Union of Journalists said.

The Artyom Borovik Award for the best journalistic investigation was instituted in 2001 to commemorate Russian journalists who gave their lives for the freedom of speech. Only the bravest and most talented Russian journalists have the honor to receive this annual award. “Journalism is an audacious profession in which the best people work,” the contest’s organizers say.

The world commemorates dead journalists on the World Press Freedom Day on May 3. On this day, individual journalists or organizations who have made a contribution to the protection and development of free press in any part of the globe receive the annual Guillermo Cano Award named after a Colombian journalist and editor, Guillermo Cano. The award has been instituted by the UNESCO Executive Council.

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