Prosecutors have concluded that a reporter who died after falling out of a stairwell window of his apartment building committed suicide, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
The death in March of Ivan Safronov, a military affairs writer for the daily Kommersant, prompted wide speculation among Russian media that he was killed for his work, which included reports on failed missile tests and secret weapons deal to Syria and Iran.
Kommersant reported that Moscow city prosecutors closed their criminal investigation into Safronov’s death due to the “absence of a criminal event.”
“The case has taken an unexpected turn,” Deputy Prosecutor Vyacheslav Sapkov was quoted as saying. “It turns out that an absolutely sober person for some reason decided to kill himself.”
Svetlana Petrenko, a spokeswoman for Moscow city prosecutors, told The Associated Press “it was completely possible” that the inquiry had been closed, but she directed all questions to a newly created investigative committee under the country’s top prosecutor.
The body of Safronov, 51, was found outside his apartment building on March 2. Kommersant earlier reported that Safronov had revealed he had been threatened while working on a report claiming Russia planned to sell sophisticated missiles to Syria and Iran.
Safronov, a former Russian Space Forces colonel, frequently angered authorities with his critical reporting. Kommersant and other media described him as a strong and cheerful person who would not take his own life and suggested foul play.
Safronov’s death came just months after the execution-style killing of investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya, who had also angered authorities with her critical reporting of President Vladimir Putin’s government and the fighting in war-torn Chechnya.
International journalist advocacy groups say Russia is one of the deadliest places in the world for reporters. The U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists said 13 journalists have been killed in contract-style murders since Putin took office in 2000.