Khadzhimurad Kamalov was a battling editor doing his job the essential job for any good journalist working in Dagestan. He reported the truth about official corruption, about organised crime, about the lawlessness that grips Russias North Caucasus, and he surely knew the risks he was taking. The masked gunman who ambushed him outside his office last week and shot him a sickening 14 times or more was always a half-expected caller just like the gunman who killed another Dagestan journalist, Yakhya Magomedov, in May. Though he was only shot four times. The more facts along this trail of blood, the more dismaying it becomes. Four journalists murdered in Vladimir Putins Russia this year alone. That makes it a good year by some standards, because around 200 have been killed since he first came to hold power. We in the west may have registered a few dreadful cases say, the murder of Anna Politkovskaya but, year in and year out, something close to a silent slaughter has been allowed, even condoned. Crimes unchecked, often cursorily investigated. Crimes against freedom bathed in slothful impunity. Many, many die, but few merit even a semblance of justice. Of course, precise figuring in case after case isnt possible. A more general conclusion, though, is inescapable. Russia is one of the worlds most perilous places to practise journalism or any kind of truth-telling. Far outside Moscow, in the scattered republics, anything goes and goes unavenged. Inside Moscow, rulers who pay lip service to human rights parade only an indifference that makes them complicit in these crimes. Kamalov died on the very day that Russias journalist organisations had banded together to commemorate those of their colleagues whod been slain. Bitter irony. How many more, Mr Putin? How long are we supposed to mourn fellow journalists who died trying to tell us, and their fellow Russians, what a slack, slimy, savage state you run? The Observer editorial