The body of Russian journalist and high-profile critic of Vladimir Putin has been discovered in his Kiev apartment with a gunshot wound to the head.
Alexander Shchetinin, who founded the Novy Region Press Agency, was found at his flat by friends trying to visit him on his birthday, reports The Independent.
A spokesperson said police in Kiev were alerted of Mr Shchetinin’s death at around midnight on Saturday although they believe he died between 8pm and 9.30pm.
Officials initially speculated the death was a case of suicide, after a gun and spent cartridges were discovered close to the body, and the door to Mr Shchetinin’s apartment was said to be locked.
Local news source Kyiv Operatyvni reported:
Alexander was sitting on a chair, with a gunshot wound to his head, the gun was lying under the chair.
Other sources claim the death has been classified as suicide, as it has emerged that Mr Shchetinin emailed a loved one apparently saying he wanted to kill himself.
Mr Shchetinin gave up his Russian citizenship to become a Ukrainian national, setting up the Novy Region news agency. He has reportedly referred to President Putin a ‘personal enemy’ and it is rumoured he had financial problems.
A former colleague said:
Because of the overdue wages, practically all the staff quit his Internet portal, and he had even to sell a car and a flat to make ends meet somehow.
Kiev’s police chief, Anrei Krishchenko, said investigators are still considering a case of deliberate murder although there are ‘many evidences of a suicide’.