-ON-DON, Russia (AP) — A journalist with state-controlled television has been killed in Russia's North Caucasus, a region plagued by violence stemming from an Islamist insurgency.
Kazbek Gekkiyev, an anchor with the state-run VGTRK media holding, was gunned down late Wednesday in Nalchik, the capital of the Kabardino-Balkariya province, police said. Police spokesman Vladislav Romanov said Thursday that the killing could be related to Gekkiyev's job.
But VGTRK said his job did not include covering underground Islamic militancy and he only read out news reports. Other VGTRK anchors have previously received death threats from militants who did not like the way they covered reports on killings of Islamists in the Caucasus.
In a web-posted video issued in February, an Islamist leader surrounded by masked men with weapons warned that he will "cut the smiles out of journalists' mouths" for their allegedly biased reporting.
President Vladimir Putin discussed Gekkiyev's killing during Thursday's meeting with Russia's human rights ombudsman, saying that authorities must track down his killers and work more efficiently to prevent such crimes.
An Islamist insurgency spread across the impoverished and multiethnic region of 7 million following two separatist wars in Chechnya. A brazen 2005 raid of Islamists on Nalchik left 130 people dead, and Kabardino-Balkariya still experiences occasional small clashes.
Police also say deputy transportation minister Vladislav Dyadshenko was wounded Thursday after an explosive went off near his car in Nalchik.