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The founder of a Russian newspaper that investigated government corruption has been shot dead

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MAKHACHKALA, Russia (Reuters) – The founder of a newspaper that investigated government corruption has been shot dead in Russia’s North Caucasus region, in what an international watchdog called “a lethal blow to press freedom.”

A gunman shot Gadzhimurat Kamalov as he was leaving the offices of the newspaper Chernovik in the capital of Dagestan province shortly before midnight on Thursday, the regional Interior Ministry said.

Police said Kamalov was shot eight times and pronounced dead on the way to hospital.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said journalists at Chernovik, known for reporting on corruption in the provincial administration, had been “routinely persecuted for their work.”

“Today’s murder of Gadzhimurat Kamalov … is a lethal blow to press freedom,” the CPJ said in a statement.

His killing was “a massive loss for independent journalism in the North Caucasus, Russia’s most dangerous place for reporters,” it quoted regional coordinator Nina Ognianova as saying.

Russian journalists who investigate corruption face serious risks, particularly in the provinces, where authorities are less likely to face scrutiny over attacks on journalists.

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