News Brief

Why Rumors Are Flying about the Death of a Russian Journalist

A Russian journalist who reported on the deaths of Russian mercenaries operating in Syria has died in suspicious circumstances after apparently falling from the balcony of his fifth-floor apartment.

Maxim Borodin had been in a coma in hospital in his home city of Yekaterinburg since last Thursday, after being found badly injured by neighbours.

Local officials said the incident was unlikely to be of a criminal nature, but said no suicide note had been found.

However, a friend revealed that Borodin had reported masked security men surrounding his apartment a day earlier.

Borodin was the first to report on the deaths of Russians working for the Wagner Group, a private military company reportedly employing 2,500 fighters on the ground in Syria.

According to Russian media investigations, the group is financed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a member of Putin’s inner circle recently indicted by U.S. Special counsel, Robert Mueller.

Local police have rejected claims that foul play was involved, saying that the journalist’s apartment was locked from the inside. But Russian social media has been flooded with rumors and theories about the cause of Borodin’s death.

In one widely-shared post, opposition politician Leonid Volkov called for an end to conspiracy theories claiming that the reporter’s death was a political murder.

He wrote that Borodin’s death is a symptom of a bigger problem, one where “the regime kills thousands of journalists” and other professionals by “depriving them of any future.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called for an investigation into Borodin’s death and ranks Russia in its list of the top ten most dangerous countries for journalists. In the last decade eleven journalists have been murdered in Russia, according to the CPJ.