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The two journalists from south Russia's republic of Daghestan murdered
The two journalists from south Russia's republic of Daghestan murdered on Friday were on a list of names that reporters of a local paper were banned from mentioning, a former editor said on Saturday.

Early on Friday Ilyas Shurpayev, a journalist with Russia's state-run Channel One, was found stabbed and strangled in his rented Moscow flat. Later in the day Gadzhi Abashilov, the head of Dagestan's state-run television station, was killed when unidentified gunmen opened fire on his car in the volatile North Caucasus republic.

On the day before he was killed, Shurapayev mentioned in his final post in his Live Journal blog that local independent paper Nastoyashcheye Vremya had blacklisted him.

A former editor in chief of the paper, Andrei Melamedov, confirmed the claim to RIA Novosti, saying both men had been put on the list in late 2007.

"The general director of the newspaper, Rizvan Rizvanov, did in fact hand me a list of people whose names he categorically did not want to see in the newspaper," Melamedov said.

As well as Shurpayev and Abashilov, the list also included several other prominent local journalists and public figures. Melamedov said the director had not given a reason for the ban.

Investigators told RIA Novosti on Saturday that they believed Abashilov's death was connected to his work in journalism.

"The investigation is considering several versions. However, the main one is linked to Abashilov's professional activities," said Vladimir Markin, the official spokesman of the Investigation Committee under the Prosecutor-General's Office.

Nastoyashcheye Vremya, a daily featuring news and analysis, was launched in September last year. The paper has a circulation of only a few thousand, but is well known in Daghestan.

Melamedov resigned from the paper on March 13 after a dispute with Rizvanov over an edition of the paper that was withdrawn from the printers.

RIA Novosti has not yet managed to reach Rizvanov for comment.


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