Anna Politkovskaya’s murder
On the anniversary of the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, Reporters Without Borders staged a ceremony at the Trocadero human rights plaza in Paris. The press rights group displayed photos of Vladimir Putin and Politkovskaya alongside 18 coffins representing the 18 journalists killed in connection with their work in Russia since Putin became president in March 2000. Putin’s photo was embellished with the insignia of his French Legion of Honour award.
Excerpt from the organization’s press release:
“We urge the Russian authorities not to identify convenient suspects in
this case,” the press freedom organisation said. “The investigation took a
disturbing turn a few weeks ago and we hope that a trial will open as soon as
possible. Combatting impunity for the murderers of journalists in Russia
continues to be a priority.”
Reporters Without Borders added: “We do not forget Anna or the 17 other
journalists killed in the past seven years, and we will do everything we can
to ensure that justice is done.”
Tomorrow, France’s new secretary of state for foreign affairs and human
rights, Rama Yade, is due to show her support for all those seeking to know
the truth in this case by placing a wreath at the stone that bear’s
Politkovskaya’s name at the Journalists Memorial in Bayeux, in Normandy.
“This is not just a life that has been snatched away, it is also the
truth that has died,” Yade is planning to say tomorrow to those attending the
ceremony. The choice of the Journalists Memorial is particularly appropriate
for a ceremony as Politkovskaya was gunned down in Moscow on the day it was
inaugurated – 7 October 2006.
In other ceremonies in honour of Politkovskaya, Reporters Without Borders
participated in the inauguration by the Rome municipal authorities of a square
bearing her name. In Perpignan, in southwestern France, the municipal council
on 24 September approved a decision to name a public area after her. And in
Berlin, Reporters Without Borders is due to attend a gathering outside the
Russian embassy on 7 October.
Meanwhile in Russia, the Politkovskaya murder case took a new turn on
2 October with the claim by Alexandre Bastrykin, the head of the Russian
commission set up specially to oversee the investigation, to Izvestias that
former Chechen official Shamil Burayev played the lead role in the
organisation of the murder. On 27 August, prosecutor-general Yuri Chaika had
announced the arrest of 10 other suspects.
The prosecutor’s office is working on the assumption that the murder was
the work of a Chechen criminal gang with help from within the security forces.
Investigators have also suggested that the instigator could have been someone
based abroad. But a series of contradictory statements – for the most part
unconfirmed – in recent weeks has fuelled doubts about the will of the
authorities to really solve this murder.
Politkovskaya was one of the few Russian journalists to specialize in
coverage of Chechnya. A story by her on torture in Chechnya, accompanied by
photos, was due to have been published in Novaya Gazeta two days after her
The French government awarded the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour to President Putin on 22 September 2006 for “services to France and the causes it defends.” Reporters Without Borders complained to the Council of State about
this award, calling it “a decision unworthy of France” and requesting its
withdrawal. The request was rejected.