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Supporters Mark Second Anniversary Of Politkovskaya Slaying


Friends, relatives, and supporters of slain journalist Anna Politkovskaya are marking the second anniversary of her assassination with ceremonies and gatherings in Russia and the West.

The events are not only commemorations of Politkovskaya, but also serve as a reminder that two years after her death, her killers still have not been brought to justice.

In downtown Moscow, Dmitry Muratov, editor in chief of the weekly "Novaya gazeta," where Politkovskaya worked, spoke to more than 200 of her supporters who braved heavy rain to gather on Novopushkinsky Square.

"The case is in court, but the killers and those who ordered the killing remain at large, despite a brilliant investigation -- no irony intended," Muratov said. "Some officials are trying to tell us the case is closed. No. We will not allow ourselves to be deceived. As long as the killer and the mastermind are free, Anya's case remains open."

Under the watchful eye of police, youths unveiled a banner reading: "We demand an open trial for the killers." Other demonstrators handed out flowers and the latest issue of "Novaya Gazeta," which featured a photo of Politkovskaya on its front page.

Politkovskaya, one of the strongest critics of the Kremlin's handling of the conflict in Chechnya, was gunned down in the stairwell of her apartment building on October 7, 2006.


In June, alleged triggerman Rustam Makhmudov, an ethnic Chechen, was charged in absentia with Politkovskaya's murder. Russian authorities say they believe he has fled to Western Europe.

Makhmudov's brothers -- Dzhabrail and Ibragim -- as well as Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, a former Moscow police officer, were also charged in connection with the killing and are in custody. Authorities have not identified those who ordered the assassination.

The case is scheduled to begin in the Moscow district military court on October 15, but the journalist's supporters say they fear the trial will not reveal the truth behind the murder.

Politkovskaya's son, Ilya Politkovsky, criticized the case during a news conference at Reporters Without Borders' Paris headquarters on October 3, saying the court will "only hear a very small part of the case" and that "the person who carried it out and whoever ordered it won't be in the dock." Politkovsky added that he suspects that Russia's intelligence services "have tried to interfere in the investigation from the start."

Addressing the crowd in Moscow, Muratov lauded Politkovskaya's career as an investigative journalist -- work that many believe led to her death. "Anna's case is not just about her frightening death," Muratov said. "Anna's case is about the 500 reports she did for 'Novaya Gazeta' where she battled with two despicable characteristics of our authorities -- their disposition toward violence and greed."

The anniversary of her death was also marked by Politkovskaya's supporters outside Russia.

More than 100 luminaries -- including Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, former Czech President Vaclav Havel, and U.S. author Noam Chomsky -- published a letter in Britain's "The Daily Telegraph" on October 7 calling on Russian authorities to "bring to justice" those responsible for Politkovskaya's death. "Two years on, justice has not been done," the letter read.

The Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI) issued a similar appeal on October 6. "Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Anna Politkovskaya at this time. We continue to call on the Russian authorities to bring those responsible for Politkovskaya's murder to justice," IPI Director David Dadge said in a statement.
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