Editor murdered after mafia reports

The editor of a provincial newspaper which investigated allegations of ties between organised crime and Russia's largest car maker has been assassinated less than 18 months after his predecessor was killed.

Alexei Sidorov, the editor of the Togliatti Review, died on Thursday after being stabbed several times in a parking lot near his home. His newspaper reported extensively about organised crime groups in Togliatti which is also the home of Avtovaz - manufacturer of Zhiguli sedans and hatchbacks.

Mr Sidorov's predecessor, Valery Ivanov, was shot to death in late April 2002 after having written about corruption among local officials

Mr Sidorov's colleagues said they were certain he was killed because of his work with the paper and Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov said police shared that view.

"For us it is a matter of honour to solve this crime," Mr Gryzlov said. He has now sent the "best specialists" to investigate Mr Sidorov's killing, state-run Rossiya TV said.

Last month, Freimut Duve, the media freedom representative for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said the Russian authorities were using "censorship by killing" to muzzle the media.

More than 200 journalists have been killed in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Union of Russian Journalists said.

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