The hazardous nature of cutting-edge investigative reporting recently manifested at the international arena when three Russian journalists were mysteriously shot dead in Central African Republic (CAR).
The three journalists identified as Orhan Dzhemal, Alexander Rastorguyev and Kirill Radchenko, were in that country on assignment when they were killed in what local authorities said was an ambush by unidentified assailants.
Orhan Dzhemal, Alexander Rastorguyev and Kirill Radchenko worked for Russian online news organization Investigation Control Centre (TsUR).
The three journalists were said to be investigating a private security company’s alleged connections to the Kremlin when their car was reportedly ambushed by unidentified attackers. Their bodies were found in the town of Sibut, miles from the Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui, but their driver managed to escape.
They were killed Monday, July 31, and identified by their ID cards as Russian nationals, according to a Russian Foreign Ministry statement translated by The New York Times.
Those behind the attack are still unknown. It also remains unclear whether the killing was related to their investigation.
The trio was on assignment for the Investigation Control Center, a Russian news outlet backed by exiled oil tycoon Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, who is also a staunch critic of the Russian government.
They were reportedly making a documentary about the Wagner Group, a shadowy security company that has allegedly received contracts from the Kremlin for secret military operations in Syria and eastern Ukraine, the Timesreports.
An editor from the Investigation Control Center, Anastasia Gorshkova, told Russian media on Sunday that the journalists had tried to enter an estate housing members of the security company, but were told they must first procure accreditation from the country’s Defense Ministry.
On Monday, they were supposed to meet a local contact in Bambari, a town 235 miles away from the capital, Bangui, via a route that cuts through Sibut.
The mayor of Sibut, Henri Depele, told Reuters that the journalists were ambushed around 10 p.m. local time.
“Armed men emerged from the bush and opened fire on the vehicle,” he said, citing the account of a driver. “The three journalists died instantly.”
According to the Times, the Russian Foreign Military agreed to provide the Central African Republic with “free military technical assistance” in March, sending five military instructors and 170 advisers there.
Russian investigators said they are looking into the deaths of Dzhemal, 51, Rastorguev, 47, and Radchenko, 33, who respectively worked as a military correspondent, a documentary filmmaker and a cameraman.
Bodies Flown Back To Russia For Funeral
The bodies of three journalists have been flown back to Moscow, where they are to undergo a forensic examination.
Svetlana Petrenko, a spokeswoman for Russia’s Investigative Committee, said Sunday, August 5, the bodies had been turned over to committee experts and would be examined “with the goal of establishing the cause of the Russians’ death,” reports CNBC.
Funerals were held in Moscow for three Russian slain journalists on Tuesday, August 7.