December 19, 2011

President of the Russian Federation
Mr. Dmitry Medvedev
Fax: +7 095 206 5173

Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation
Mr. Chaika Yuri Yakovlevich
Ishaya Dmitrovka 1 a GSP e
Moscow 12599 3
Fax +7 095 292 88 48

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,500 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to condemn the assassination of journalist Khadzhimurad Kamalov.

According to our information, shortly before midnight on December 15, 2011, Khadzhimurad Kamalov, a prominent journalist and the founder of Chernovik, an independent weekly newspaper, was shot up to 14 times by a masked assailant as he was leaving his office in the Dagestan capital Makhachkala. The gunman reportedly fled the scene by car.

We understand that there has been a history of harassment towards the staff of Chernovik, with five of its journalists arrested on trumped-up charges of “extremism” between 2008 and 2011. The newspaper has addressed highly sensitive topics in Dagestan, particularly police abuse in neighboring Chechnya. Kamalov himself, who had been receiving threats since founding the newspaper in 2003, had spoken out against alleged regional government corruption in a recent television interview.

PEN American Center believes that Khadzhimurad Kamalov was targeted solely for his peaceful journalistic activity, in violation of his right to freedom of expression under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the Russian Federation ratified on October 16, 1973. We therefore call for a full and impartial investigation into his assassination, and seek assurances from the Russian government that threats against journalists are fully investigated as a matter of priority.

Thank you for your consideration of this crucial matter.


Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: Mr. Sergey I. Kislyak
Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the United States
Embassy of the Russian Federation to the Untied States
2650 Wisconsin Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Fax: (202) 298-5735

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