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Russian journalist Maxim Borodin dies after mysterious fall

17 April 2018

A journalist who had been investigating the deaths of alleged Russian mercenaries in Syria died in a hospital on Sunday after falling from his balcony in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg.

In another report, local authorities said they were not treating the death as suspicious.

Friend Vyacheslav Bashkov, described Mr Borodin as a "principled, honest journalist" and said he had called him at five in the morning last week to claim there was "someone with a weapon on his balcony and people in camouflage and masks on the staircase landing".

A spokesman for the interior ministry for the Sverdlovsk region told CNN that Borodin's apartment was found locked from the inside, suggesting that "no one exited the apartment and most likely there were no strangers in there" at the time of his fall.

He said that Borodin was alarmed, but not hysterical or drunk.

Novy Den chief editor Polina Rumyantseva said Mr Borodin's death may not have been an accident or suicide.

An hour later, however, Borodin called back and said he had been mistaken and that the security officers were conducting some sort of drill.

"We were able to visit the apartment of Maxim, together with the police and forensic experts on Friday, the intermediate conclusion is that Maxim fell out of the balcony of his apartment where he probably was smoking", she said.

On February 7, the group made headlines when hundreds were killed in Syria in the first open confrontation with United States forces in more than 50 years after a manoeuvre took them across the dividing line between US-led and Russian-backed groups.

The group is reportedly bankrolled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as "Putin's chef" with links to the Kremlin.

Thousands of Wagner mercenaries are allegedly involved in military operations in Syria. As the New Yorker noted, it was the first time in half a century that Russian and US military forces had engaged in direct combat.

Only a dozen deaths were confirmed by Russian authorities, however Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo said that "a few hundred" Russians were killed.

Russia ranks first on the European Federation of Journalists list of countries with the highest number of journalists murdered in Europe.

"This story is not about how the regime kills one journalist who writes on inconvenient topics", Volkov wrote on Facebook.

But Harlem Desir, the representative for freedom of the media at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe said Borodin's death was "of serious concern".

Russian journalist Maxim Borodin dies after mysterious fall