A Russian female journalist with a Kremlin-backed First Front media group has been shot dead at a military training ground in Russian-occupied Crimea. Russian designated officials and state media outlets reported the news.

According to Al-Jazeera’s report, the name of the journalist who was killed on Friday was Svetlana Babayeva. He headed the bureau of Russia’s state-owned Rossiya Segodnya media group in Simferopol, the Crimean peninsula’s second-largest city. Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014.

Babayeva was killed by a stray bullet during a shooting exercise at a military training ground, Russian news agency RIA Novosti and its affiliate Rossiya Segodnya reported on Friday.

No further details were given about the journalist’s death. Pro-Kremlin figures paid tribute to Babayeva in social media posts.

The Russian governor of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, called her death an irreparable loss.

Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-backed head of Ukraine’s southern region (head of the mainly Russian-held Kherson region), said Svetlana did a lot to tell the public the truth about what was happening in the Kherson region.

“I love you so much, Sveta,” Russian foreign affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on her Telegram channel.

Ukraine imposed sanctions against Russia Segodnya media and called the organization’s CEO Dmitry Kiselev a ‘central figure in government propaganda supporting the deployment of Russian troops in Ukraine’.

In a statement posted by RIA Novosti, Kiselev said Babayeva was a ‘warm person who strongly supported Russia and wanted to support our heroes.’

Babayeva was previously RIA Novosti’s bureau chief in the UK and US and editor of the Gazeta.RU website, the agency said. Russia continued its crackdown on independent journalists on Friday, declaring TV channel Dodz head Natalya Sindeeva and two journalist colleagues ‘foreign agents’.

Sindeeva, Vladimir Romensky and Ekaterina Kotrikadzh, are named in the latest list of ‘foreign agents’ by the Russian Ministry of Justice. The ministry said the three were included because of their ‘political activities’.

All of Russia’s major independent media outlets, including Moscow’s radio station Echo and Dodge TV, have been shut down or suspended their operations in the country.

Dozed shut down its Russian operations less than two weeks after Moscow invaded Ukraine and suspended broadcasting from Russia in an emotional ceremony on March 3.

The channel resumed broadcasting from studios in neighboring Latvia on 18 July.

Russia has introduced a law since the start of the war in Ukraine. The law provides for up to 15 years in prison for spreading information about the military deemed false by the authorities. As the invasion of Ukraine has been called a war, ordered by the Kremlin. But it is referred to as a ‘special military operation’.

(29 October)