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Timothy McVeigh's Death Row Essay Attention Readers: The following article originally appeared in Think #17, and was sent to us by Tim McVeigh after we asked him if he would like to write something for us. Excerpts of this article have appeared in other publications since then. ...

Accidental Murders - Journalism is a deadly profession in Russia
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The years since 1996 have been a disaster for journalists working in the former Soviet Union. 

Strange coincidences almost like those from bad Hollywood scripts seemed to happening all the time and the world population could come across news about journalists losing their lives reading their favourite paper on a regular basis. 

32 journalists "somehow" lost their lives and again "somehow" none of those cases were ever to be solved or even to reach the courtroom.

The Chechen war of course took its toll - but only 14 out of those 32 lives were lost there. In the past 5 years, 90 people were killed working for the media and this fact definitely makes me a little nervous. "How come all those coincidences always manage to happen in one place, at a certain time and above all, together?"

The case of Natalia Aljakina-Mrozek is just one example. This case is an almost complete puzzle. A typical one though, and sufficient to illustrate the state-system's investigation of the murders of those is not a priority.

The following is a tiny illustration good enough to understand how it all works.

One shot hit the driver. Shriek... The car stopped. On the back seat the German journalist Gisbert Mrozek was trying to stop the blood running down the head of the woman next to him with his own hands. 

That woman was his wife, Natalia Aljakina-Mrozek. "Desperation" - is all one can say. His attempts were futile.

The bullethole was bigger than a man's fist. Natalia died within a few seconds. In the city, at that time, Russian soldiers were shooting into hospitals full of hostages that would never survive.

This tragedy happened in the evening of July 17, 1995, shortly after Natalia, her husband Gisbert, and their driver Martyrosjan passed through a closely observed military base. Just 100 meters down the road, the two fatal shots were fired coming from in front of the BMW and that's where a scandal started that still makes journalists not only in Russia but also around the world somewhat nervous.

But the story continues. In the beginning of January 1996 the driver - Vasilij Martyrosjan, who was injured on that night of July 17, 1995 in the car bringing Natalia and Gisbert Mrozek to Budonnonsk, died as officially proclaimed - "in a car accident".

The last living witness of that tragic night is Gisbert Mrozek. He still hasn't found out whether the death of Martyrosjan was really just an accident or not. 

Neither did he succeed in his effort to find someone who cared about this matter. And so, when in late January 1996, the file on Natalia Aljakina-Mrozek was closed, all that was left for Gisbert was the report. 

He read many pages everyday to the point that he ran out of patience, and sent a letter on January 22,1996 to the High Military Prosecution - specifically to Subcolonel A. Kondratko, the investigator of special crimes, and tried to explain a strange contradiction.

A contradiction a lot more delicate than one would think because it involves the former president of the Russian Federation himself; Boris Yeltzin.

Two days after the murder of Natalia Aljakina and Mrozek, on the evening of July 19, 1995 the Russian president made an appearance on TV. It wasn't for the first time that he would comment on the murder of a celebrity. 

A couple of months before, the TV reporter Vladislav Listev was killed, and a tearful Yeltzin came on TV promising that the murderer would be punished. But concerning Natalia all he said was: "It could have been just a coincidental shot or a shot to the nape of her neck. If it was to the nape that means it was intentional..." 

A couple of days later Gisbert Mrozek was given an audience by a spokesperson of Boris Yeltzin, Mr. Sergej Medvedev. Mr. Medvedev showed him a report for the president from the key witness Jens Zigert stating: "A soldier shot from his gun in a state of nervous shock." This statement is of principal meaning, if not the very fundamental one. 

If someone shoots under conditions of nervous strain, then it is not an accident. It is like a situation when a wife kills her husband with a meat-cleaver at the moment of surprising him in bed with his mistress because she is overcome by hysterical emotions, and a situation when she stumbles over the carpet and manages to drop a flowerpot on his head. 

Applied to our situation, either the soldier shot Natalia because he stumbled and he accidentally touched the trigger, or he lost his mind under the pressure of hate towards journalists. Temporary hate. This moment made the "accident" a murder.

Instead of real measures to prevent this from happening again, only simple promises were made. The Russian case turned into an international scandal and as time went on more people were murdered. More accidents. More desperation. Natalia Aljakina-Mrozenko was not the only one. 

ONE out of many, in fact. Police in contemporary Russia seems to be powerless to prevent the increase in numbers of ordered murders. The reality is that once every 72 hours an attempt is being made to execute someone. 

Murder in Russia has become a daily method of political and economic competition - a way to get rid of the "inconvenient" ones.

Sometimes it is carried out against a particular individual or just to scare those who might posses a desire to find out more about "higher interests". The state seems to be indifferent to those issues and the Mafia is becoming an integral part of governmental bodies, corrupting them.

This is the case of the popular journalist Dimitrij Cholodov who was sent a nice little present in a suitcase bomb - by someone who might be his secret admirer. His death blocked a series of articles on the corruption of top executives in the Russian Army. 

Imagine... "the perpetrator UNKNOWN".

These are just two of many cases, some more famous than the others. To learn more, visit List of journalists killed in Russia on Wikipedia to start.

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