Russian journalist dies in self-immolation after police search

A Russian journalist has died after setting herself on fire in front of the local branch of the interior ministry in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, a day after her apartment was searched by police.

Prior to her self-immolation, Irina Slavina wrote on her Facebook page: “I ask you to blame the Russian Federation for my death.”

Slavina worked as editor-in-chief at Koza Press, a small local news outlet that advertised itself as having “no censorship, no orders ‘from above’”.

A day before her death, she wrote on Facebook that police officers and investigators had searched her apartment, and that they were looking for “brochures, leaflets and accounts” from the Open Russia opposition group, which is financed by the Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

She said they seized notebooks, her laptop and other electronics, as well as her daughter’s laptop and her husband’s mobile phone.

The Investigative Committee of Russia said it was opening a preliminary investigation after a woman self-immolated in Nizhny Novgorod, a city of 1.3 million about 250 miles (400km) east of Moscow. It did not name Slavina in the statement.

Members of Russia’s opposition said Slavina had been under pressure from the authorities.

“Over the past years security officials have subjected her to endless persecution because of her opposition [activities],” the opposition politician Dmitry Gudkov wrote on Instagram.

“What a nightmare,” Ilya Yashin, another Kremlin critic, wrote on Twitter. “All of these cases of police amusing themselves, these shows of men in masks – these are not games. The government is truly breaking people psychologically.”