Remember the Date: 7 October 2006 - the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya

posted 7 Oct 2016, 03:23 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 7 Oct 2016, 03:49 ]
On 7 October 2006, journalist Anna Politkovskaya was shot dead in the lift of the apartment building in Moscow where she lived. In her career as a journalist Anna Politkovskaya worked for Izvestia from 1982 to 1993 (on the emergencies and accidents section); as assistant chief editor to Egor Yakovlev at Obshchaya gazeta, (writing primarily about social problems — particularly refugees); and from 1999 to 2006 she wrote a regular column for Novaya gazeta (with a special focus on Chechnya). She also published a number of award-winning books about Chechnya, life in Russia, and the Putin administration.

Halya Coynash writes today in Human Rights in Ukraine: "There were some arrests, even convictions, but those who ordered Anna Politkovskyaya’s murder have never been found – or even particularly looked for."

The extract below from the Wikipedia entry for Anna Politkovskaya summarizes the two trials that have taken place concerning her murder as follows:

"Trial: Three men were charged with directly aiding Politkovskaya's killer, who was allegedly the brother of two of the suspects. There was insufficient evidence to charge the fourth man—an FSB colonel—with the murder, though he was suspected of a leading role in its organisation; he stood trial at the same time for another offence. The case was held before a jury (a rare occurrence in Russia) and, after the jurors insisted, was open to the press and public. On 25 November 2008, it was reported that Politkovskaya's murder might have been ordered by a politician inside Russia. Murad Musayev, a lawyer for the men on trial, told journalists that the case notes—as one of the interpretations of the crime—mentioned that a politician, based in Russia (but not named in those notes), was behind her death. On 5 December 2008, Sergei Sokolov, a senior editor of Novaya Gazeta, testified in court that he had received information (from sources he would not name) that defendant Dzhabrail Makhmudov was an agent of the FSB. He said Makhmudov's uncle Lom-Ali Gaitukayev, who was serving a 12-year jail sentence for the attempted murder of a Ukrainian businessman, also worked for the FSB. Russia's Investigative Committee—with help from the Belgian police—arrested Rustam Makhmudov, the man suspected of killing Anna Politkovskaya, after he was detained in the Chechen Republic and transported to Moscow for questioning.

"Following the acquittal: After all three men were acquitted of Politkovskaya's murder in February 2009, her children Vera and Ilya, their lawyers Karinna Moskalenko and Anna Stavitskaya, and senior Novaya Gazeta editor Sergei Sokolov gave their reaction to the trial at a press conference in Moscow. In his comments on the end of the trial, Andrew McIntosh, Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe's Sub-Committee on the Media and Rapporteur on media freedom, expressed frustration at what he perceived to be a lack of progress in investigating the murder, or the inability of the Russian authorities to find her killers: "Two years ago, in its Resolution 1535 (2007), the Assembly called on the Russian Parliament closely to monitor the progress in the criminal investigations regarding the murder of Anna Politkovskaya and hold the authorities accountable for any failures to investigate or prosecute. The closure of the trial yesterday can only be regarded as a blatant failure. I call on the Russian authorities and Parliament to relaunch a proper investigation and shed light on this murder, which undermines not only freedom of expression in Russia, but also its democratic foundation based on the rule of law. There are no excuses for these flawed investigations into murders of politically critical journalists writing against corruption and crime within government, such as the murders of Georgy Gongadze in Ukraine in 2000 and Paul Klebnikov in Moscow in 2004." [...]

"Retrial: On 5 August 2009, the prosecution service's objection to the acquittals in the Politkovskaya trial was upheld by the Supreme Court, and a new trial was ordered. In August 2011, Russian prosecutors claimed they were close to solving the murder after detaining Dmitry Pavliuchenkov, a former policeman, who they alleged was the principal organiser. The following month Kommersant Daily reported that, according to Pavlyuchenkov, Lom-Ali Gaitukayev was the one negotiating with the person who ordered the killing, and although Pavlyuchenkov did not know the name, he suspected he could be the fugitive businessman and Putin critic Boris Berezovsky. In December 2012 Dmitry Pavliutchenkov was found guilty and sentenced to 11 years in a high security penal colony. In May 2014 five men were convicted of murdering Politkovskaya, including three defendants who had been acquitted in a previous trial. The defendants were three Chechen brothers, one of whom was accused of shooting Politkovskaya in the lobby of her Moscow apartment building. In June 2014 the men were sentenced to prison, two of them, Lom-Ali Gaitukayev and his nephew Rustam Makhmudov, receiving life sentences. It is still unclear who ordered or paid for the contract killing."

'Anna Politkovskaya,' Wikipedia
Halya Coynash, '10 Years without Anna Politkovskaya,' Human Rights in Ukraine, 7 October 2016