Ombudsman asks Putin to order security measures for reporters

Russia's human rights commissioner Vladimir Lukin urged President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to take measures to protect journalists in the regions from physical assaults.

"I would very much like local law enforcement to receive one more serious impulse and so on so that all potential measures are considered once again, so that attention is paid to the security of journalists, especially those tackling sensitive matters," Lukin said in discussing a television presenter's murder in Nalchik, a city in the North Caucasus, during a meeting with Putin.

Kazbek Gekkiyev was given a fatal shot in the head on Wednesday night. Two people were suspected of committing the crime and were being tracked down, Kabardino-Balkaria's police authority said.

The presidential permanent envoy to the North Caucasus Federal District, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Khloponin, said earlier that Putin had put the investigation of Gekkiyev's murder on his personal monitoring list.

Khloponin denied that Gekkiyev, presenter of a daily news program on the television of the Kabardino-Balkaria republic, had anything to do with television programs where burning political issues were raised, and expressed suspicion that his killing was designed to intimidate Russia's entire media community.

Colleagues of Gekkiyev's said he and others were known to have received threats.

Kabardino-Balkaria's head of administration, Arsen Kanokov, argued that Gekkiyev's murder might be an attempt to intimidate local journalists.

Meanwhile, Putin has said that the murder of a journalist in Nalchik raises questions about the efficiency of work to protect citizens' rights. At the same time, he expressed hope that the criminals would be found and punished.

"Unfortunately, we again witnessed a very severe crime committed in our country - manslaughter. The basic human rights - the right to live and also the right to disseminate information since he was a journalist - were violated," Putin said at a meeting with ombudsman Vladimir Lukin.

"It makes us ponder how efficient our work to protect the rights of citizens in our country really is," Putin stressed.

The victim was a young and very promising man, he said.

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