A journalist investigating the deaths of Russian mercenaries in Syria has died after falling out of the window of his fifth-floor apartment last week.
Maxim Borodin, 32, went into a coma after falling out of the building last Thursday and died from his injuries on Sunday. Authorities in the city of Yekaterinburg launched a pre-investigation probe, saying they are treating Borodin’s death as an accident.
The journalist had been investigating the deaths of Russian private military contractors in a U.S.-led coalition airstrike in Syria on Feb. 7 and their funerals in March.
“There are no grounds for opening a case […] There are no signs that a crime was committed,” the state-run TASS news agency cited regional investigators as saying Monday.
Polina Rumyantseva, editor at the Yekaterinburg-based Ria Novy Den news agency, was quoted by The Financial Times as saying that his death “looks like a terrible accident.”
She told the MBKh news website that there had been no indication that Borodin exhibited suicidal tendencies.
Nevertheless, reports about two separate social media posts by the investigative journalist’s acquaintances compounded the suspicious circumstances of his death.
According to the OVD-Info police monitoring website, one of Borodin’s acquaintances wrote that the journalist called him in search of a lawyer two days before his accident, saying “people in camouflage and masks” were standing outside of his apartment.
Another acquaintance cited by OVD-Info recounted Borodin being hospitalized on April 5 after being attacked outside his home.
Regional media reported in October 2017 that Borodin was attacked over the head with a steel pipe.
Harlem Désir, the OSCE’s media freedom representative, called on Russian authorities “for a swift and thorough investigation” of Borodin’s death.