Yuri Shchekochikhin

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Yuri Petrovich Shchekochikhin (Ю́рий Петро́вич Щекочи́хин) (June 9, 1950, Kirovabad - July 3, 2003, Moscow) was a Russian journalist, writer, and liberal lawmaker. Shchekochikhin made his name writing about and campaigning against the influence of organized crime and corruption in the Russian government. He died suddenly in 2003 after a mysterious illness later linked to thallium poisoning, in what was believed by many to be a politically-motivated assassination.

Contents

[edit] Investigative journalism

Shchekochikhin graduated from the Journalism Department of Moscow State University in 1975. He worked as an investigative journalist at Komsomolskaya Pravda (1972-1980) and Literaturnaya Gazeta (1980-1996), and then as a deputy editor of the liberal newspaper Novaya Gazeta (from 1996). Beginning in the 1990s, he published many articles critical of the Chechen Wars, human rights abuses in the Russian army, state corruption, and other social issues. Since 1995 he was an author and host of an investigative journalism program called "Special Team" on independent Russian television.

[edit] Political career

Yuri Shchekochikhin began his political career in 1990, when he was elected as a representative to the Congress of People's Deputies. He was elected to the Russian State Duma from the liberal Yabloko party in 1995. He was a member of a Duma committee on the problems of corruption, and was a UN expert on the problems of organized crime. He was a vocal opponent of the Chechen Wars.

From 2002, Shchekochikhin was a member of the Sergei Kovalev Commission, which investigated allegations that the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings had been orchestrated by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) to generate support for the war [1].

One of Shchekochikhin's last articles before his death was "Are we Russia or KGB of Soviet Union?"[2] It described such issues as the refusal of the FSB to explain to the Russian Parliament what poison gas was applied during the Moscow theater hostage crisis, and work of secret services from the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan, which operated with impunity in Moscow against Russian citizens of Turkoman origin.

He also tried to investigate criminal activities of FSB officers related to money laundering through the Bank of New York and illegal actions of Yevgeny Adamov, a former Russian Minister of Nuclear Energy. This case was under the personal control of President Vladimir Putin [3]. In June of 2003, Shchekochikhin contacted the FBI and got an American visa to discuss the case with US authorities [4]. However, he never made it to the USA because of his sudden death. Some Russian media claimed that Putin has issued an order to discharge 19 high-ranking FSB officers involved in this case in September 2006 as part of a Kremlin power struggle, but all these officers still continue to work in their FSB positions [5].

[edit] Death

Shchekochikhin died suddenly on July 3, 2003 after a short and mysterious illness. His relatives were denied an official medical report about the cause of his illness, and were forbidden to take specimens of his tissues to conduct an independent medical investigation [6]. Nevertheless, they managed to send a specimen of his skin to London, where a tentative diagnosis was made of poisoning with thallium [7] [8]. This caused widespread speculation about the cause of his death, especially since another member of the Kovalev commission, Sergei Yushenkov, was assassinated the same year[9] [10], and the legal counsel and investigator of the commission, Mikhail Trepashkin, was arrested by Russian authorities.[11] [12]

Shchekochikhin's last published book was "Slaves of KGB: 20th Century. The religion of betrayal", a nonfiction work describing numerous stories of real people who were forcibly recruited by the Russian KGB (later the FSB) to work as undercover informers or agents. These people virtually became slaves of their KGB recruiters, and betrayed their closest friends, colleagues, and relatives. He was working on a book about wars in Chechnya that remained unfinished at his death.

[edit] External links

[edit] English

[edit] Russian

[edit] Books

[edit] See also

de:Juri Petrowitsch Schtschekotschichin fi:Juri Šhekožihin ja:ユーリ・シチェコチヒン ru:Щекочихин, Юрий Петрович

Yuri Shchekochikhin

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