Reporters Without Borders is deeply saddened to learn that newspaper editor Vyacheslav Yaroshenko, who spent several days in a coma after being attacked and beaten outside his home on 29 April, died today in the southwestern city of Rostov-on-Don. He was 63.
“There is an urgent need for an impartial investigation into all the circumstances of Yaroshenko’s death,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The Russian authorities cannot keep covering up crimes of violence against journalists by pretending they were accidents and leaving those responsible at large, completely unpunished.”
Yaroshenko’s colleagues at his newspaper, Koruptsiya i Kriminal (Corruption and Crime), believe he was murdered in connection with his work.
He was attacked and beaten about the head by unidentified assailants when he arrived home from work on the night of 29 April. After spending several days in a coma and undergoing two major operations to the brain, he was eventually released from hospital. But his health suddenly worsened a few days ago and he was admitted to an intensive care unit.
Sergey Sleptsov, who worked for Yaroshenko at Koruptsiya i Kriminal, said: “The authorities have been trying to convince us for the past two months that he fell off a ladder but that is not credible because of the location of his injury.” Journalists in Rostov-on-Don are carrying out their own investigation into his death.
The Rostov-on-Don authorities refuse to open an investigation, insisting that Yaroshenko just fell off a ladder. The pro-government news agency Ria Novosti also referred to theory of a fall, reporting that “witness saw the journalist fall downstairs.”