Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is very worried about Leonid Makhinya, a journalist who disappeared in the southwestern city of Volgograd exactly three months ago today, and calls on the Russian authorities to shed all possible light on the case.
Aged 35 and the editor of a local news website called Volgogradsky Reporter, Makhinya has been missing since 7 June. His wife’s last contact with him was a phone call that morning, during which she noticed nothing unusual. All attempts to locate him since then have drawn a blank.
The local Investigative Committee opened an investigation into the case in July, treating it as a suspected homicide.
“We are extremely concerned about Leonid Makhinya,” said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “His unexplained disappearance casts an intimidatory shadow over the entire journalistic profession. We call on the authorities to do everything possible to find him.”
Volgogradsky Reporter styles itself as an independent site “telling nothing but the truth, without any censorship” and often publishes articles critical of the local authorities. Many of his colleagues urge the authorities not to rule out the possibility that his disappearance is linked to his journalistic work.
As RSF reported at the time, someone sabotaged the brakes of the car of Yulia Zavyalova, the editor of another independent news website in Volgograd, in November. Impunity for violence against journalists is a recurrent problem in Russia, which is ranked 148th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.