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Putin Promises 'Objective' Probe Into Journalist's Murder

Flowers and a picture of Politkovskaya outside her home on October 8 (epa) October 9, 2006 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has told U.S. President George W. Bush that Russian authorities will do everything they can to find the killers of Anna Politkovskaya, a top investigative journalist and a leading critic of Russia's conduct of the war in Chechnya.

In its first public statement since Politkovskaya's killing on October 7, the Kremlin said Putin promised U.S. President George W. Bush in a phone conversation on October 9 that the Russian authorities will conduct an "objective investigation."

Politkovskaya's murder has caused outrage in Russia and internationally.

The European Union today called for a through investigation of what an European Commission spokesman, Johannes Laitenberger, called an "appalling crime."

Laitenberger described Politkovskaya, who chronicled human rights abuses against civilians in Chechnya, as "an important and fearless journalist who stood for freedom of expression in Russia."

Germany urged the Russian government to prevent a "climate of fear" from developing, and a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Merkel is expected to raise the issue in talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Dresden on October 10.

Speaking today in Baku to RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) representative on freedom of the media, Miklos Haraszti, said he was "absolutely appalled" by Politkovskaya's slaying.

"I believe that this maybe could have been prevented if previous cases of killings of journalists had been pursued with vigor and with seriousness," he added. "But impunity of those crimes would lead to more killings of journalists, and that is inadmissible, not only tragic."

The newspaper for which Politkovskaya worked, "Novaya Gazeta," has offered a reward close to $1 million to find her killer. Russian media report that attacker possibly had an accomplice.

(Ekho Moskvy, AP, AFP)

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