Reporter beaten to death in Moscow

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The Independent Online

A correspondent for the US-funded Radio Liberty has been found apparently beaten to death on a Moscow street, it was reported yesterday.

A correspondent for the US-funded Radio Liberty has been found apparently beaten to death on a Moscow street, it was reported yesterday.

Iskandar Khatlani, a poet and journalist for the radio station's Tajik service since 1996, was found dead with severe head wounds by a passer-by late on Thursday night.

In a terse statement, the head of Radio Liberty, Thomas Dine, said Mr Khatlani was "a distinguished journalist" upon whom many in the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan relied for accurate news. "We hope those responsible for his death will be brought to justice," he said.

Tajikistan, a mountainous central Asian state, has been wracked by civil war and incursions by Islamic militants from neighbouring Afghanistan since winning independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Radio Liberty, started by the CIA half a century ago to broadcast to Iron Curtain countries, has lately enraged the Kremlin with critical coverage of the war in Chechnya and alleged electoral fraud in polls that brought President Vladimir Putin to power last March.

Mikhail Lesin, the Russian Press Minister, has described Radio Liberty as "hostile to the Russian state" and threatened to revoke its licence to operate in Russia.

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