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European Rights Court Condemns Moscow Over Politkovskaya Probe, Pussy Riot Case


Anna Politkovskaya

In two separate judgments, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has condemned Moscow over its investigation into the murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya and its treatment of the punk performance-art group Pussy Riot.

In the case of Politkovskaya, who was shot dead in Moscow in 2006, the ECHR ruled that Russia "had failed to take adequate investigatory steps to find the person or persons who had commissioned the murder."

Politkovskaya, a critic of President Vladimir Putin whose dogged reporting exposed high-level corruption in Russia and rights abuses in the southern republic of Chechnya, was gunned down in her Moscow apartment building on October 7, 2006.

In 2014, two men were sentenced to life and three others to long prison terms after being convicted of involvement in Politkovskaya's killing, but relatives and colleagues say justice will not be done until those who ordered her killing are identified and convicted.

Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina (left) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova in December 2013, shortly after their release from prison.
Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina (left) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova in December 2013, shortly after their release from prison.

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

The court also found that three Pussy Riot members sentenced in 2012 for singing a "punk prayer" against then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's move to return to the presidency later that year had been subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment and their rights to a fair trial and to liberty had been violated.

The ECHR ordered Russia to pay Maria Alyokhina, Natalya Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina Samutsevich 72,000 euros ($84,000) compensation.

The three were convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" for a stunt in which band members burst into Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral and sang the "punk prayer" and sentenced to two years in prison.

Samutsevich's sentence was suspended on appeal. Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were released in December 2013 as part of an amnesty for nonviolent offenders.

With reporting by AFP
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