Justice for Anna
The failure to solve
A reporter for the Moscow-based independent newspaper
The investigations into this highly sensitive case have been obstructed for years. The trial of four of her alleged killers that began two years after her death was marked many irregularities and ended on 19 February 2009 with three of them being acquitted. The supreme court ordered a new trial but the case was split into several components and for a long time an additional investigation was refused.
The alleged gunman, Rustam Makhmudov, had meanwhile been able to flee abroad thanks to accomplices within the administration, reinforcing the sense of impunity.
Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the Russian Investigative Committee, said the investigators even had “information about the presumed mastermind” but added that it would be premature to make that information public.
Should this progress be seen as evidence of a real political will to end impunity for those who attack and kill journalists in Russia? Unfortunately, the official investigators have so far only made progress when under pressure from Novaya Gazeta’s parallel investigation. Identifying the masterminds, some of whom almost certainly are members of the Russian or Chechen security services, will require a different level of resolve altogether.
At least 26 journalists have been killed in connection with their work since Vladimir Putin became president in 2000 (see below). Journalists and human rights defenders are particularly exposed in the Russian Caucasus. Politkovskaya’s murder, like that of her fellow journalist,
As the head of Memorial, Oleg Orlov, recently said to the newspaper Dosh: “[Ordinary people] tell us, and it’s partly true: ‘They kill you too. You are unable to defend yourselves. So how are you going to be able to defend us?’.”
President Dmitri Medvedev’s promise to do something about impunity for those responsible for violence against journalists has come to nothing. But the candidate to succeed him, the “
So, this is clearly not the moment to cry victory. On the contrary, the need is greater than ever to redouble efforts and vigilance, to ensure that the official investigation does not stop after making progress, to ensure that that it keeps going until all those who were ultimately responsible for this murder have been identified.
"Information kills" - A campaign against impunity in Russia: