Nothing Weird About A Journalist Falling Off Balcony, Russia Says

United States Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and her Russian counterpart Vassily Nebenzia exchanged barbs at UN

United States Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and her Russian counterpart Vassily Nebenzia exchanged barbs at UN

News website Novy Den confirmed its reporter Maxim Borodin had been found badly injured by neighbours in Yekaterinburg, Russia, before passing away in hospital on Sunday local time.

Bashkov said Borodin had contacted him early in the morning on the day before his fall to say that men in "camouflage and masks" were surrounding his apartment. "But he didn't write anything; and on the 13th, the media reported that Maksim had been found under his balcony and he was in the emergency room".

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

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

However Novy Den's editor said he did not believe the death could have been an accident and he didn't think Borodin was suicidal, the BBC reports. Bashkov said the reporter asked to find him a lawyer, but an hour later Borodin called back and said it was a false alarm.

"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. Last October, an assailant reportedly hit Borodin over the head with a steel pipe shortly after he'd reported on a controversial movie about Tsar Nicholas II.

Mr Borodin was described as a "principled, honest journalist".

The Wagner Group is believed to be bankrolled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was indicted in the United States in February on charges of funding a "troll factory" that tried to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Thousands of Wagner mercenaries are allegedly involved in military operations in Syria.

Media watchdog groups have called for an impartial investigation into Borodin's sudden death.

In a statement on Twitter, Harlem Désir, the media freedom representative for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, an intergovernmental body, expressed "serious concern" about Borodin's death.

It's believed up to 2500 Russian mercenaries work in Syria earning around 300,000 roubles per month as part of the paramilitary force which is reportedly under the control of the GRU, or Russian military intelligence.

According to the European Federation of Journalists, more members of the media have been murdered in Russia than anywhere else in Europe in recent decades.

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