Reporter, Who Covered Russian Mercenaries In Syria, Plunges To Death

Maxim Borodin controversial reporting sought to expose corruption and abuse of power in Russia. Now he's dead.


A Russian journalist, who was investigating alleged Russian mercenaries in Syria, died after falling from his balcony in Yekaterinburg.

Maxim Borodin was known for controversial reporting, including major criminal and corruption cases. He plunged to death from his fifth-floor balcony under mysterious circumstances.

Borodin’s neighbors reported him unconscious under his balcony on April 12. He remained in a coma before he died in intensive care on April 15.

Borodin’s death is still being investigated but Russian authorities do not think there was any criminal activity involved. Local authorities told CNN Borodin’s apartment was locked from the inside, indicating he was alone at the time of the fall.

Despite the direction taken by the investigative committee, people close to Borodin fear foul play.

The journalist’s friend, Paulina Andreevna, demanded a fair and clean investigation for her deceased friend, saying attacks on Borodin were not uncommon. She wrote he was attacked outside his home earlier this month.

Borodin was also targeted after he wrote a critical piece about Russian Orthodox religious activists’ attempts to foil the release of the controversial film “Matilda,” which depicted a love affair between Tsar Nicholas II and the ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya.

Another friend of Borodin, Vyacheslav Bashkov, posted on Facebook about the deceased journalist calling him on April 11, asking for help as he spotted men in “camouflage and masks” surrounding his residence. He was looking for a lawyer. According to Bashkov, Borodin called later to apologize for the call as he suspected the men were performing some exercise routine.

“[Borodin’s] work was very dangerous. He was one of the best,” Bashkov told The Guardian.

Paulina Rumyantseva, editor-in-chief of Ria Novy Den, the news agency Borodin worked for, said suicide was highly unlikely.

“As Maxim had big plans for his personal life and career, there is nothing to support a verdict of suicide,” she said.

Borodin regularly reported about sensitive issues, including the Russian paramilitary groups in Syria. He reported these mercenaries were linked with the notorious Wagner Group, the group is allegedly linked to oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is nicknamed “Putin’s chef.”

Prigozhin was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller in February for backing a pro-troll factory into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections.

Hundreds of Russian mercenaries allegedly died after fighting U.S. troops in Syria; if so, this was the first time in 50 years, the U.S. and Russians have directly engaged in a combat.

Freedom of press is not exactly a given right in Russia. According to the European Federation of Journalists, from 1990 to 2015, 345 journalists died in Europe, out of which 115 deaths occurred in Russia.

Thumbnail/Banner Credits: LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images

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