MOSCOW, March 1 (UPI) -- The spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin defended the decision by major Russian television networks not to report on a nanny's apparent beheading of a 4-year-old girl.
Russia's major television networks, including Rossia-1, Channel One, NTV and Moscow's TVTs, did not cover the story Monday in Moscow. Gyulchekhra Bobokulova, 38, from Uzbekistan, was arrested after she was caught on video apparently carrying the severed head of Nastya, a 4-year-old girl who was in her care.
Russian networks are heavily monitored by the government and freedom of the press as a whole is notoriously undermined. Russia ranks 152nd out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders' 2015 World Press Freedom Index.
Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday said he agreed with the networks' decision and said the "terrible tragedy" that occurred should not be linked to Bobokulova's Muslim heritage.
"Don't you link this with some nationalities question. It was a terrible tragedy, either in terms of its inhumanness or in terms of insanity. The investigation will possibly find out," Peskov said.
"In this respect I fully agree with the [federal] channels," Peskov said when asked about why the crime was absent from the major networks.
Unidentified employees of different networks said broadcasters received "recommendations" to stay away from the story by Russian officials, citing a government desire to avoid attention on national ethnic or religious issues.
"The Kremlin issues no instructions to the federal channels," Peskov said. "It is true that the channels, as we know, made a decision not to show this terrible tragedy. I believe that one can only support this decision, because the incident was too terrible to be shown on TV."
Russia's Muslim leaders also urged people to refrain from linking the incident with Islam.
"This is an issue of an absolutely unhinged person, so it would be completely erroneous to associate some actions with Muslims and Islam, on the basis of clothing or some slogans," the head of Moscow's Muslim council, Ildar Alyautdinov, said in a statement.
Ren-TV, a privately owned network, reported the killing in an early afternoon newscast but did not report later in the day about the arrest of Bobokulova or the surrounding circumstances
Bobokulova was placed in psychiatric care as officials investigate whether she suffers from mental illness or was under the influence of drugs.
Graphic videos of the incident show her, dressed in a hijab, shouting "Allahu Akbar," "I am a terrorist" and "I am your death." The child's decapitated body was found in the apartment in Moscow where a fire was reported.
Bobokulova was arrested after a police officer asked her for identification outside the Oktyabrskoye Polye metro station in northwest Moscow. She pulled the head out of a bag and began screaming that she would detonate herself.