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Slain Journalist Politkovskaya Honored At Moscow Memorial Service

  • Robert Coalson
  • RFE/RL's Russian Service

MOSCOW -- Several dozen people in Moscow have attended a somber memorial service to mark the 10th anniversary of the murder of prominent investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

A string quartet played selections of the slain journalist's favorite music as mourners laid flowers at a memorial plaque outside the editorial office of Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper where Politkovskaya worked.

Politkovskaya, a critic of President Vladimir Putin whose reporting exposed high-level corruption in Russia and rights abuses in its North Caucasus region, was shot dead in her Moscow apartment building on October 7, 2006.

Novaya Gazeta Deputy Editor Sergei Sokolov opened the event by noting that it remains unknown who ordered Politikovskaya's contract killing.

"The person who ordered the murder can die in peace or place another such order, if they have not done so already," he said. "Probably, they already have."

Anna Politkovskaya's desk in the Novaya Gazeta newsroom has been left intact as a memorial to the slain journalist.

Anna Politkovskaya's desk in the Novaya Gazeta newsroom has been left intact as a memorial to the slain journalist.

Several Western diplomats attended the Moscow memorial service. Lynne Tracy, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, read a U.S. government statement that deplored Politkovskaya's "brutal murder" and said her "courage and persistence...remain an inspiration to us all."

An official from the European Union's representative office in Moscow read a statement from EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini praising Politkovskaya as "a staunch defender of human rights."

"Her death was and still is a tragic loss to freedom of speech in Russia and Russian journalism," the statement said. "Her words will long be admired."

Speaking to RFE/RL, Novaya Gazeta Editor In Chief Dmitry Muratov, a personal friend of Politkovskaya's, described her as "a woman of stunning beauty."

"I remember her as a very tough, complicated, strong-willed person as she was evacuating a home for the elderly in [the Chechen capital, Grozny] one winter," he said. "And I saw her dragging generators around in order to save people from the cold."

On October 7, the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatovic, said that "it is unacceptable that 10 years on after this horrific murder the masterminds behind [the Politkovskaya] assassination are still at large."

"This vicious circle of impunity has a detrimental effect on the media freedom situation in the country," Mijatovic said.

People gathered near a memorial plaque dedicated to Politkovskaya near the Novaya Gazeta offices to register their anger that whoever ordered her killing has not yet been found.

People gathered near a memorial plaque dedicated to Politkovskaya near the Novaya Gazeta offices to register their anger that whoever ordered her killing has not yet been found.

Novaya Gazeta newspaper placed a video statement on its website called Do Not Dare To Say That The Crime Has Been Solved.

In 2014, two men were sentenced to life and three others to prison terms for their involvement in Politkovskaya's murder. It remains unclear who ordered the killing.

Politkovskaya was killed on Putin's birthday, prompting speculation that her murder was meant as a "gift" to the president.

Anna Politkovskaya was born in New York in 1958, the daughter of a Soviet diplomat from Ukraine. She reported extensively on the wars and human rights situation in Chechnya and the rest of Russia's North Caucasus beginning in the 1990s. Much of her reporting was collected and published in several books. She was the laureate of numerous Russian and international awards, including an Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism in 2001, a PEN Freedom to Write award in 2002, and an Olaf Palme Prize in 2004.

In 2007, she became the first person ever to receive a posthumous UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.

RFE/RL Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova, who received the international Anna Politkovskaya Award for her professional courage in 2015 when she was in jail, wrote on Facebook on October 7 that those who killed Politkovskaya did not manage to silence her.

Robert Coalson wrote this story in Prague based on reporting by RFE/RL's Russian Service and RFE/RL Moscow correspondent Tom Balmforth
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    Robert Coalson

    Robert Coalson covers Russia, the Balkans, and Eastern Europe. Send story tips to coalsonr@rferl.org

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