TV-21 Northwestern Broadcasting
April 18, 2003, in Murmansk, Russia

Shvets, the 37-year-old deputy director-general of the independent television station TV-21 Northwestern Broadcasting in the northern Russian city of Murmansk, was shot dead outside the station's offices.

An unknown assailant shot Shvets several times at approximately 5 p.m. in front of witnesses and escaped in a getaway car that was waiting nearby. Shvets died instantly.

Shvets was well-known in Murmansk, not only for running the television station but also for his political activism and a number of commercial interests. Although he had not worked as a journalist in many years, Shvets remained in a managerial position and on the station's board of directors. According to press reports and the Moscow-based Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations (CJES), he influenced the station's editorial policy, and TV-21's reporting often reflected his political persuasions.

The Murmansk media covered Shvets' murder widely and actively speculated about the possible motive. Shvets' colleagues said TV-21 had received multiple threats for its critical reporting on several influential politicians, including Andrei Gorshkov, a candidate in the city's mayoral race.

Several weeks before Shvets' murder, Gorshkov had threatened TV-21 journalists several times after they broadcast a tough interview with him.

TV-21 news editor Svetlana Bokova told CPJ that at the time of his death, Shvets was using his contacts at the police and prosecutor's office to investigate the mayoral candidate's links to organized crime.

Police continue to investigate various motives behind the murder, including Shvets' political, commercial, and journalistic activities at TV-21. Shvets' colleagues maintain that he was killed in retaliation for TV-21's critical reporting on local politics.

Bokova told CPJ that, during the murder investigation, police have requested videotapes with critical reports broadcast by TV-21 during the last two years.

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