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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 March 2007, 14:24 GMT
'Russian arms' journalist buried
Ivan Safronov
Ivan Safronov's death is being investigated by Russian prosecutors
The funeral has taken place in Moscow of a Russian journalist who died in a fall from his fifth-floor apartment.

Ivan Safronov, 51, was investigating claims of planned Russian arms sales to Syria and Iran at the time of his death, his paper, Kommersant, has said.

Kommersant's editor has said he showed no signs of being suicidal, but the paper says it will keep an open mind.

Meanwhile, a report by a press watchdog has concluded that journalism in Russia has become as "dangerous as war".

Safronov, a military affairs writer, fell from a fifth-floor window on Friday at the Moscow apartment block where he lived.

His newspaper said at the time of his death he was investigating reports of alleged Russian plans to sell sophisticated missiles to Iran and fighter jets to Syria, via Belarus.

Prosecutors quoted by Russian media say they are investigating the possibility that he was "driven to suicide".

Dangerous work

But friends and relatives of Safronov told Kommersant that they knew of no reason why he would commit suicide.

Anna Politkovskaya
Politkovskaya is one of 88 journalists killed in Russia since 1996

"I don't want to fuel speculation, but I can say for sure that I knew him well and he showed absolutely no sign of being suicidal," said Kommersant's chief editor, Andrei Vasilyev.

International press watchdogs have expressed concern about the safety of journalists in Russia.

"Too many critical journalists have died in the line of duty in Russia," said Joel Simon, the director of New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

"Given this terrible record, Safronov's sensitive beat, and the questions surrounding his death, we call on Moscow authorities to thoroughly investigate every lead, including foul play."

In a separate report, the International News Safety Institute (INSI) concluded that Russia is the second most deadly place for journalists, after Iraq.

According to INSI, in the last 10 years, 88 journalists were killed in Russia, the most common cause of these deaths being contract murders.

Russian investigators are still trying to find out who killed Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist who exposed serious human rights abuses in Chechnya. She was shot dead in Moscow last October.




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