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The Tajik Prosecutor General's Office has charged
The Tajik Prosecutor General's Office has charged two men with the murder of the Russian TV reporter, Ilyas Shurpayev, a law enforcement source said on Tuesday.

"Masrurdzhon Yatimov and Nadzhmiddin Mukhiddinov have been charged under the provisions of Article 104/2 of the Penal Code of Tajikistan [premeditated murder under aggravating circumstances]," he said.

The accused, both Tajik nationals, are now in a pre-trial detention center.

Shurpayev, a reporter from Russia's volatile North Caucasus republic of Daghestan who worked for Russia's state-run Channel One TV station, was found stabbed and strangled in his rented Moscow apartment on March 21.

The Tajik Interior Ministry has rejected suggestions that Shurpayev's murder was related to his professional activities, saying instead that it was the result of a simple robbery gone wrong.

Masrurdzhon Yatimov, 24, and Nadzhmiddin Mukhiddinov, 20, said they had not planned to kill Shurpayev, but they had been forced to do so after the Russian journalist resisted their attempts to rob him.

Yatimov, believed to be the main suspect in the murder, said he had met the reporter on March 12 and that Shurpayev had offered him money for sex. It was then that the men learnt that Shurpayev had recently received a large sum of money from Daghestan and decided to rob the reporter.

After killing him, the two men set fire to Shurpayev's apartment. However, the blaze was put out before it could spread, and Russian police later discovered him with a belt around his neck and multiple stab wounds.

A third man, Mukhiddinov's brother, was also arrested by Tajik authorities. Although he did not participate in the murder, he is believed to have known about it and may now be charged with failure to report a serious crime.

The Tajik Interior Ministry spokesman said the extradition of Yatimov and Mukhiddinov to Russia would be considered by the two countries' prosecutor generals under the 1993 Minsk Convention.

On the same day that Shurpayev's body was found, Gadzhi Abashilov, the head of Daghestan's state-run television station, was killed when unidentified gunmen opened fire on his car.

Russia remains one of the world's most dangerous countries for reporters. According to data from the international organization Reporters Without Borders, 21 journalists were murdered in Russia between 2000 and 2007.


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