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Russian Journalist Politkovskaya Found Dead

Politkovskaya in July (RFE/RL) October 7, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Moscow police say prominent Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, known for her critical coverage of the war in Chechnya, was killed today in the capital.

Moscow police said Politkovskaya's body was found by a neighbor in an elevator in the apartment building where she was living in the city center.

The Interfax news agency quoted police officials as saying a pistol and four bullets were found in the elevator.

Politkovskaya was respected for her critical, in-depth coverage of the Russian government's campaign in Chechnya. She worked for "Novaya gazeta," a newspaper known for its opposition to the Kremlin.
MORE: Coverage in Russian from RFE/RL's Russian Service.

In 2002, she acted as a negotiator with Chechen rebels who laid siege to a Moscow theater.

In 2004, she fell seriously ill with symptoms of food poisoning after drinking tea on a flight from Moscow to southern Russia during the school hostage crisis in Beslan, North Ossetia.

At the time, her colleagues suspected it was an attempt on her life.

Politkovskaya also wrote critical books on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his campaign in Chechnya. She had been arrested and complained of sometimes being threatened.

Demand For Goverment Action

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), a media watchdog based in Brussels, today called on Russian President Vladimir Putin's government to act swiftly to bring Politkovskaya's killers to justice.

IFJ Secretary-General Aidan White told RFE/RL that Politkovskaya's slaying was clearly a "targeted assassination."

"For the IFJ, it's very clear to us that when a journalist of such a reputation can be killed in this way, it reflects on the state of lawlessness that is threatening to overwhelm the whole of Russian journalism," White said.

White called Politkovskaya the "bravest of a new breed of brave Russian reporters."

In New York, the Committee to Protect Journalists described the killing as a "devastating development for journalism in Russia."

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said, "Russia is a violent country and violent to journalists."

The killing was also condemned by rights watchdog Amnesty International, and by former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

There has been no immediate reaction from the Kremlin.

(with agency reports)

Press Under Assault

Press Under Assault


BREAKING THE NEWS: Press freedom is under assault in virtually all of the countries of the former Soviet Union. Independent media confront enormous challenges in providing citizens with the independent information that can help advance democratic reforms. On May 2, RFE/RL's Washington office hosted a roundtable briefing that gave an overview of media developments in the CIS and discussed the connections between press freedom and future democratization. The briefing featured Freedom House Director of Studies CHRISTOPHER WALKER, American University Associate Research Professor ROBERT ORTTUNG, and RFE/RL Central Asia analyst DANIEL KIMMAGE.


Listen to the entire briefing (about 90 minutes):
Real Audio Windows Media

RFE/RL's Press Freedom Day stories:

Iraq: Covering The Most Dangerous Beat On Earth

Afghanistan: Women In Journalism Battle Restrictions, Threats

Iran: State Maintains Tight Control Over Information

CIS: Press Freedom In Former Soviet Union Under Assault

Central Asia: Bureaucratic Obstacles Hinder Journalists

Central Asia: Governments Wary Of Independent Media

Central Asia: Journalists Still Face Harassment, Threats

THE COMPLETE STORY: To view an archive of RFE/RL's coverage of media-related stories, click here.


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