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Pro-Kremlin News Anchor Stabbed to Death

A 26-year-old journalist for the pro-Kremlin Expert cable television channel was found in his Moscow apartment with more than 30 knife wounds to his neck, investigators said.

Investigators and friends of Dmitry Okkert, a Chelyabinsk native, expressed doubt that the killing was linked to his professional activities.

Okkert's body was found Friday by his landlady, who was alerted by friends worried that he had stopped returning phone calls and did not respond to the doorbell Thursday, RIA-Novosti reported.

Investigators did not provide a possible motive for the killing.

"According to the preliminary investigation, the killing of Okkert wasn't related to his job," Anatoly Bagmet, head of the Moscow branch of the Investigative Committee said Sunday, Itar-Tass reported.

Okkert's employer and a friend said they were mystified by the killing.

Valery Fadeyev, head of the Expert media holding, said he did not think the killing was connected to Okkert's work, a sentiment echoed by a friend of Okkert, journalist Anton Korobkov-Zemlyansky.

Okkert moved to Moscow in 2005, joining NTV’s "Maximum" show that covered scandals and celebrity lifestyles. He joined Expert in late 2008, becoming a news anchor for the television channel, which specializes in analyzing business and politics.

Several television journalists have been killed in their Moscow apartments, most recently Channel One journalist Ilyas Shurpayev who was killed by two Tajik robbers in 2008. The two were convicted last year.

In 2006, NTV journalist Ilya Zimin died in his Moscow apartment after being attacked by Moldovan national Ilya Velchev, who claimed that Zimin had made homosexual advances. A Moldovan court acquitted Velchev, who admitted to beating up Zimin but denied killing him, in 2007.

No date has been set for Okkert's funeral. The journalist was single and had no children, Korobkov-Zemlyansky told The Moscow Times.

Dozens of journalists have been killed in Russia over the past two decades in the line of duty, causing Reporters Without Borders to label Prime Minister Vladimir Putin a “Predator of the Press” in May for the second year in the row. The international media watchdog accused Putin of creating an atmosphere in which journalists easily become targets for violence. Putin’s office has denied the charge.

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