26-Year-Old Journalist Found Dead in Moscow Apartment (updated)

Update 6/27/10: Chief federal investigator Anatoly Bagmet said on Sunday that Okkert was most likely killed during a domestic dispute. We will continue to provide details on Okkert’s case as they become available.

Slain journalist Dmitri Okkert. Source: Tv.expert.ru

A young Russian journalist has been found dead in his Moscow apartment, Interfax reports.

Acquaintances of 26-year-old Dmitri Okkert said that they had not had any contact with the journalist over the course of three days. On Friday morning, investigators found Okkert’s slain body in his central Moscow apartment.

An investigation is currently underway at Okkert’s residence. Sources in Russian law enforcement said that more than thirty knife wounds were found on the victim’s body. There was no report on any possible motive for the killing.

Anatoly Bagmet, head of the investigative department of the Moscow Regional Prosecutor’s Investigative Committee, will reportedly be personally in charge of the investigation.

Dmitri Okkert had worked as a journalist and television host for a variety of major Russian media outlets. He became a correspondent for the Vesti news program on the state-run Rossiya television channel in 2005, and proceeded to work as a journalist with the independent REN-TV network and the state-controlled NTV network later on. He had been a news host on the business channel Expert-TV since December 2008.

Russia is notorious as one of the most deadly countries in the world for journalists. This past April, the American think tank Freedom House ranked Russia 175 out of 196 countries for global press freedom, calling the country’s media environment “repressive and dangerous.” The Paris-based press watchdog Reporters Without Borders included Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on its recent list of “predators of press freedom.”

Vsevolod Bogdanov, head of the Russian Union of Journalists, estimates that more than 300 journalists have been murdered in Russia in the past 15 years, with the majority of cases remaining unsolved. Because of the lack of court convictions in cases involving murdered journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists ranks Russia in 8th place on its impunity index for the years 2000-2009.