The death of a journalist who wrote about Russian mercenaries in Syria is being described as a cause of “serious concern”.
News website Novy Den said its reporter Maxim Borodin died in hospital on Sunday after falling from his fifth-floor balcony in Yekaterinburg, east of the Ural mountains, on Thursday.
Mr Borodin wrote last month about the death of people said to be Russian mercenaries. It is claimed they were from the Wagner Group, a private army Moscow is said to be using in Syria.
The Wagner Group is believed to be bankrolled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was indicted in the United States in February on charges of funding a ‘troll factory’ that tried to influence the 2016 presidential election.
It is not clear why Mr Borodin fell, but news reports in Russia, citing police, said his apartment was locked from the inside.
In another report, local authorities said they were not treating the death as suspicious.
“There are no grounds for launching a case,” the local investigative committee told the TASS news agency.
“Several versions are being considered, including that this was an unfortunate accident, but there is no sign a crime has been committed,” it added.
But Harlem Desir, who talks about media freedom for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, said Borodin’s death was “of serious concern”.
“I call on the authorities for a swift and thorough investigation,” he tweeted.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, there is a disturbing record in Russia of attacks on reporters, with 58 killed since 1992.