A Russian journalist died after setting herself on fire outside a government building Friday — writing on Facebook an hour before her suicide, “Blame the Russian Federation for my death.”
Irina Slavina, editor-in-chief of the small local news outlet Koza Press, self-immolated in front of the local branch of the interior ministry in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, about 260 miles east of Moscow.
About an hour before her death, Slavina penned a foreboding message on Facebook directing followers to blame Russia for her death. A day before, she wrote that police raided her apartment in search of pro-democracy materials.
Slavina, who ran a press shop that billed itself as having “no censorship” and “no orders ‘from above,’” said she was being probed for ties to the Open Russia opposition group, which is financed by a fierce critic of the Kremlin, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
During the raid, cops swarmed her apartment, hunting for “brochures, leaflets and accounts” tied to the group and left with her notebooks, laptop and phones, as well as her daughter’s laptop and her husband’s phones, she wrote on Facebook Thursday.
“I’m left without the means of production,” she wrote of the event.
Russia’s Investigative Committee confirmed it was opening an investigation into a self-immolation, but did not confirm her name in its statement.
The committee’s local branch in the Nizhny Novgorod region later said Slavina’s self-immolation had nothing to do with the searches carried out at her apartment on the previous day.
However, supporters of the Russian opposition movement took to social media to say Slavina had been under significant pressure from authorities for years.
“Over the past years security officials have subjected her to endless persecution because of her opposition (activities),” Dmitry Gudkov, an opposition politician, wrote on Instagram.
“What a nightmare,” another Kremlin critic, Ilya Yashin, wrote on Twitter.
“All of these cases of police amusing themselves, these shows of men in masks — these are not games. The government is truly breaking people psychologically.”
With Post wires