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Second Russian journalist in three days killed

  • Story Highlights
  • Host of Muslim TV show in Dagestan killed
  • Media freedom groups investigating if Abdulla Alishayev's killing is linked to his work
  • He is second journalist to be shot dead in Caucasus in three days
  • Media watchdogs say Russia among most dangerous places for journalists to work
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MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- A Russian journalist died Wednesday from gunshot wounds sustained the night before -- the second Russian journalist fatally gunned down this week.

Abdulla Alishayev -- a host on one of the most popular Islamic television stations in the Russian republic of Dagestan -- was shot in the head and shoulder late Tuesday while he was in his car, police told CNN.

Police said he was attacked by two unknown assailants in the Dagestan capital of Makhachkala, and the incident is under investigation.

His death comes less than three days after another journalist and prominent Kremlin critic Magomad Yevloyev was shot and killed in Ingushetia, a small Russian republic in the Caucasus region.

Dagestan and Ingushetia, which lie on opposite sides of Chechnya, are predominantly Muslim republics in southern Russia where Russian forces have sought to quell Islamist rebels.

Reporters Without Borders said authorities are looking into whether Alishayev's murder was linked to his professional work.

Last week, Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists denounced what they called Russian authorities' month-long offensive against a weekly opposition newspaper in Dagestan.

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The offensive, according to both media watchdog groups, included raiding the homes of several journalists that worked for Chernovik newspaper.

More than 1,000 people attended Alishayev's funeral, which was held Wednesday shortly after he died following an emergency operation at Makhachkala's Central Hospital, according to his co-workers and police.

Alishayev hosted the television program, "Peace on Your Home" which airs on TV Chirkey. He was also widely known for his documentary entitled "Common Wahhabism."

"He was the most simple man ever," said Mohammed Alyvich, a close friend and business partner of Alishayev. "He was quiet and always respectful of everyone."

Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists also demanded a thorough investigation into the death of Yevloyev, a leading critic of Kremlin-backed leaders in Ingushetia, who was fatally shot on Sunday while being taken to a police precinct in Ingushetia by officers.

Ingush authorities said Yevloyev was accidentally shot in the head while resisting arrest, according to the Paris-based group known by the French translation Reporters sans Frontieres.

Yevloyev was the owner of a Web site that frequently took to task local leaders in Ingushetia, an impoverished province that has suffered for almost a decade from overflowing unrest in neighboring Chechnya.

"Yevloyev's relatives, colleagues, and friends told CPJ that they believe he was murdered to silence the Web site, one of the few remaining independent news sources in Ingushetia," the New York-based CPJ said.

Ingushetia's President Murat Zyazikov is battling a low-level insurgency with Islamist rebels who launch frequent attacks on Russian servicemen and law enforcement officials.

In response, Russia has launched a counterinsurgency campaign that has been criticized by human rights groups for abuses such as arbitrary detentions and extra-judicial executions.

Over the years, Yevloyev had fiercely criticized Zyazikov. Last year, he accused the president on his Web site of hiring hit-men to kill him, Reporters Without Borders said.

Russia is considered by media watchdog groups to be one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists to work.

The situation gained worldwide attention two years ago after the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, a reporter who was fatally gunned down while investigating the victims of the Russian war in Chechnya. The Kremlin has denied any involvement in her murder.

The Glastnost Defense Foundation, which provides legal support to the media in Russia, estimates that more than 220 journalists have been killed in Russia since 1991.

Of those deaths, only six have been "properly investigated," according to the foundation. "They don't think journalists are really useful in this country," said the foundation's president Alexei Simonov, referring to Russian authorities. "Sometimes they even think they're worse than useless."

CNN's Diana Markosian and Maxim Tkachenko contributed to this report

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