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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Saratov Reporter Found Smothered

Yevgeny Gerasimenko, a journalist for the independent weekly Saratovsky Rasklad, was found smothered in his apartment in the southern city of Saratov, police said Thursday.

Gerasimenko's mother found him Wednesday with a plastic bag over his head and his hands tied with rope and tape. He also suffered multiple bruises.

Gerasimenko, 29, was probably killed shortly after midnight, said Denis Zheltov, a spokesman for the region's top police official.

Police found no signs of forced entry in the apartment, but Gerasimenko's computer was missing.

Investigators are exploring several leads, including the possibility that the killing was connected to Gerasimenko's work, said Nina Gellert, a spokeswoman for the Saratov prosecutor's office.

"We are also considering domestic violence --neighbors said loud music was playing in the apartment the night he was killed -- and robbery," Gellert said by telephone.

Saratovsky Rasklad editor Vladimir Spiryagin said Gerasimenko had been investigating the corporate takeover of a local enterprise, news portal United Volga reported. He did not identify the companies.

Spiryagin also said Gerasimenko was supposed to file a story last week, but he missed the deadline, something unusual for him.

A Saratovsky Rasklad secretary said no journalists were in the office Thursday to comment. But the journalists posted a statement on the paper's web site saying they believed the killing might be connected to Gerasimenko's work.

The Committee to Protect Journalists called on prosecutors "to pursue every lead and conduct a detailed and transparent probe into the brutal murder." "Russia's roster of deadly censorship continues to grow with no sign of relenting," said Joel Simon, the executive director of the New York-based group. At least 12 journalists have died in contract-style slayings since 2000 in Russia, and all of the cases remain unsolved, the group said.