A Russian journalist recently set herself on fire in front of the police headquarters in Nizhny Novgorod. The incident comes a day after investigators searched the woman's home. The victim, before her self-immolation, posted on Facebook, saying that the Russian government was responsible for her death.
Woman burns herself to death
According to The New York Times, 47-year-old Irina Slavina is the founder and editor of local news site Koza Press, which later confirmed her passing. Russia's equivalent of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Investigative Committee, said the victim's accusations were baseless.
The official statement of the search of Slavina's apartment wrote that the investigation was part of a criminal case where authorities considered the victim as a witness.
Slavina posted on social media that 12 people had conducted a search in her apartment in the early morning, which includes several members of the special police unit. The online post noted law enforcement agents were searching for brochures, leaflets, and accounts from Open Russia.
Open Russia is an opposition organization that goes against the Russian government and is financed by Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, who is a prominent critic of the Kremlin. Khodorkovsky was forced to escape the country after being imprisoned for more than ten years.
Investigators searched Slavina's apartment as part of the criminal case against local entrepreneur Mikhail Ioselevich. Authorities suspect that he is working with Open Russia, which officials openly called an "undesirable organization" operating within the country.
Slavina's death is the latest incident that reminds Russian journalists of the risks that they face whenever they write about topics that the Kremlin deems objectionable. The number of incidents where journalists are threatened or attacked has increased in recent years, according to a compilation by advocacy group Justice for Journalists.
Pressuring opposition of the Kremlin
Dmitry Gudkov, an opposition politician, said that security officials have, for years, subjected the victim to continuous persecution due to her opposition activities, as reported by The Guardian.
Another Kremlin critic, Ilya Yashin, regarded the death of Slavina as a nightmare in a post on Twitter. He added that the efforts that police officers conduct in persecuting opposition is not a mere game but noted they are breaking people psychologically.
Slavina was previously fined by authorities for taking part in opposition demonstrations held in Nizhny Novgorod and another time for some of her previous posts that mentioned Open Russia.
Several local authorities across the nation have continuously pressured independent media outlets and journalists. Many individuals have been forced to quit established publications and create their own small websites or blogs.
In 2016, before founding her own news website, Slavina was working for multiple local media outlets at the same time. During which, authorities subjected her to varying forms of censorship.
Last year in September, the suspect said in an interview that she had previously lost three jobs because of her intrusive actions that trespassed what the government deemed appropriate.
Slavina was the only editor and writer of Koza Press, which she founded, and it is where the victim published investigative articles that detailed the internal workings of the Federal Security Service, which is considered to be the most powerful agency in the country.