Armenian Editor Murdered in Moscow

MOSCOW (The Independent)–The Armenian editor of the Russian-language monthly Armyansky Pereulok (Armenian Lane)–magazine focusing on Armenian issues was beaten and stabbed to death Saturday–and his body dumped on the outskirts of Moscow–police said.

The killing of Pailag Peloyan–comes barely a week after Paul Klebnikov–the US editor of the Russian version of Forbes magazine–was gunned down in cold blood. Nobody has been arrested for his murder.

Peloyan’s body was found dumped by the side of the city’s outer ring road or MKAD far from the city center on Saturday morning.

He had multiple stab wounds in the chest and had been savagely beaten; his skull was cracked and his face covered in blood and bruises.

Information about his last movemen’s is sketchy–though he is known to have died between two and three o’clock on Saturday morning and his body lay undiscovered for at least four hours.

Investigators say they have scanned the crime scene in order to gain clues about the act and prosecutors have opened a criminal case into the killing.

They are not ruling out the possibility that Peloyan was murdered because of his professional activity.

In contrast to the late Klebnikov–however–Peloyan’s work appears relatively uncontroversial. While the dead American journalist made waves by publicizing the names of Russia’s wealthiest people and delving into their often insalubrious financial affairs–Peloyan’s magazine was an arts publication. Peloyan’s magazine carried features about literature–the arts and history and included prose and poetry from Armenian writers. Nobody was answering the phones at the magazine’s Moscow office yesterday.

Klebnikov was killed in a drive-by shooting by at least two gunmen and died in a hail of bullets just yards from his office. His murder had all the hallmarks of a contract killing.

An online news site–the Russia Journal–spoke yesterday of "an undeclared war against media representatives" and claimed that Russian and foreign journalists had become an endangered species in Moscow.

It said: "These two senseless killings have once again put the issue of journalists’ safety in Russia back on the agenda and raised well-founded concerns among representatives of the fourth estate.

"This is not because killing journalists is a rarity in Moscow or in Russia at large but two murders of journalists in less than 10 days in a city that is not at war is something unusual–even by Russian standards." The Russian media itself made far less of Peloyan’s murder–possibly because as an Armenian hailing from a part of the former Soviet Union once ruled by the Russia’s–he would not be considered a bona fide foreigner like Klebnikov.

It is estimated that two million Armenia’s live in Russia and the two countries have a close relationship going back hundreds of years. Officials at the Armenian Embassy in Moscow said that they were profoundly shocked by Peloyan’s murder. "Naturally we learned of this information with great regret," Armen Gevondyan–the embassy press secretary–told Interfax news agency.

"We are taking all the measures we can together with Russia’s law enforcement authorities to ascertain the circumstances of Peloyan’s death." Peloyan is the 16th journalist to be murdered in Russia’since 2000. The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists says the country is one of the deadliest places to be a reporter. It addressed an open letter to Putin after Klebnikov’s killing–complaining about "the climate of lawlessness and impunity."

"Cases [of journalists being killed] have not been properly investigated or prosecuted–a testament to the ongoing lawlessness in Russia and your failure to reform the country’s weak and politicized criminal justice system," it said.

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