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Croatia police charge two for wartime killing of Russian reporters

February 23, 2021

Croatian police on Tuesday pressed charges against two former rebel Serb policemen for killing two Russian journalists during the country’s 1990s war, that claimed lives of more than 20 reporters.

Viktor Nogin and Gennadiy Kurinnoy, working for the then Soviet state television, were shot dead by a member of rebel Serb police force on September 1, 1991 in central Croatia, a police statement said.

Members of the rebels’ unit opened fire at a vehicle with diplomatic plates in which Nogin, 43, and Kurinnoy, 41, dressed in civilian clothes, were returning from reporting in a war zone, it said.

When the car stopped, one of the suspects — at the time 26 years old — allegedly took the wounded journalists’ passports and press cards before shooting them dead.

The second suspect, then 33 years old, who commanded the unit did nothing to prevent the crime, near the town of Hrvatska Kostajnica, and helped cover it up, police said.

The rebels then set the car on fire and dumped it along with the bodies next to a river.

The car wreckage was found in 1992 but not the remains of the two reporters.

Police pressed charges for war crimes against civilians against the two suspects in absentia.

Local media identified both suspects and said they lived in neighbouring Serbia and Bosnia.

Police say the suspects remain “out of reach for criminal proceedings in Croatia”.

A memorial plaque was unveiled near the site where the journalists were killed in 2011.

Russian President Vladimir Putin posthumously awarded the two the order of courage in 2017, according to The Moscow Times.

Croatia’s proclamation of independence from Yugoslavia sparked the 1991-1995 war with rebel Serbs who opposed the move.

More than 20 reporters, including six foreigners, were killed in the line of duty during the war, according to the Croatian Journalists’ Association.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.