Magazine article Russian Life

Anna Politkovskaya Murdered: Prominent Investigative Reporter and Activist Shot in Her Apartment Building

Magazine article Russian Life

Anna Politkovskaya Murdered: Prominent Investigative Reporter and Activist Shot in Her Apartment Building

Article excerpt

Russia has lost one of its most prominent and courageous journalists to what many are calling a political assassination.

Investigative reporter and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya, renowned for her critical coverage of conflict in Chechnya and of the Putin presidency, was shot dead in her apartment building in Moscow on October 7.

Politkovskaya, 48, was a special correspondent for the Moscow independent daily, Novaya Gazeta.

"She was the conscience of Russian journalism," said Oleg Panfilov, director of the Moscow-based Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations.

"There are almost no more journalists like her left today," said Vitaly Yaroshevsky, deputy editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta, at Politkovskaya's funeral on October 10. "Anna was a fearless person; not reckless, but courageous. She's the third person to have died from our paper."

Leaders of many countries--including the United States, press and human rights activists have condemned the killing and called it a blow to Russia's ailing press freedoms.

Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, who recently bought a 49 percent stake in Novaya Gazeta, called the murder "a true political homicide, a vendetta."

Gorbachev was not alone in speculating that Politkovskaya's killing was politically motivated, and in particular that it was connected with her investigative work in Chechnya. In Politkovskaya's last interview, on October 5, she told the Russian Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that "right now, I have two photographs on my desk. I am conducting an investigation about torture today in [Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan] Kadyrov's prisons. These are people who were abducted by the 'Kadyrovtsy' [his armed security service] for completely inexplicable reasons and who died. These are bodies absolutely disfigured by torture."

President Vladimir Putin condemned the killing and said that "all necessary efforts will be made for an objective investigation into [her] tragic death." A few days later, he said that "the murder has done more damage to Russia ... than Politkovskaya's articles." Further, he said the Kremlin had "reliable" sources that linked the killing to someone's desire to stir up anti-Russian sentiments around the world.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Prosecutor General Yuri Chayka said he would take investigation under his personal control, as his predecessors had promised on similar occasions before, including the 2004 murder of Paul Khlebnikov, editor of Russian Forbes. …

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