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Radio Svoboda Remembers Anna Politkovskaya

U.S. -- Journalist Anna Politkovskaya of Moscow's Novaya Gazeta newspaper speaks in New York on October 16, 2002.
U.S. -- Journalist Anna Politkovskaya of Moscow's Novaya Gazeta newspaper speaks in New York on October 16, 2002.
October 7 marked the seventh anniversary of the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, a prominent Russian journalist who was shot dead in the elevator of her apartment building in central Moscow in 2006. Her murder shocked her supporters both in Russia and abroad.

Politkovskaya was a renowned investigative journalist famous for her reporting during the Second Chechen War in 2000, and for her coverage of human rights abuses in Russia. Dmitry Muratov, the editor-in-chief at Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper where Politkovskaya worked, said she was planning to send him an in-depth article about the use of torture by the Chechen security forces on the day of her murder. She talked about the report on October 5, two days before she was gunned down, in what would be her last interview, given to RFE/RL’s Russian Service, Radio Svoboda.

She was also an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the practices of the country’s Federal Security Service (FSB). She is remembered for documenting and condemning the use of poison gas by security services prior to a raid by special forces during the Nord-Ost theater siege in Moscow in 2002. Politkovskaya reported from the theater, where approximately 130 hostages died because of their exposure to the gas.

Natalia Gevorkyan remembered Politkovskaya in a piece she wrote for Radio Svoboda on the anniversary of her death this year. In a piece entitled “Think Differently,” she wrote that “Anna may not have fit in the canons of the craft. ..But we didn’t realize that she was holding the moral bar in our profession,” Gevorkyan said. “She couldn’t walk by the pain of others without passing it through herself[…] She always chose the side of the weak.”

Russia -- Memorial to Anna Politkovskaya at Novaya Gazeta, Moscow.
Russia -- Memorial to Anna Politkovskaya at Novaya Gazeta, Moscow.
The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called Politkovskaya’s case “an international symbol in the struggle against impunity” of those who perpetrate crimes against journalists.

CPJ has documented 56 politically motivated murders against journalists in Politkovskaya’s Russia since 1992. Of these cases, 89 percent have been met with complete impunity, 8 percent have received partial justice and only 3 percent have been fully and justly resolved.

CPJ has characterized the prosecution of Politkovskaya’s murder as “opaque and bound to sabotage the pursuit of true justice.” Beginning in 2008, four people, the brothers Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makmudov, Sergei Khadzhnikurbanov and Pavel Ryaguzov, were tried as suspects in the murder on charges of illegal weapons trafficking. In February 2009, a jury unanimously declared them not guilty.

Upon the order of Russia’s Supreme Court, a retrial began in July 2013 in which the suspects again pleaded not guilty. On November 7 the hearings were temporarily halted after a prosecutor announced that a jury member had been previously convicted of murder. On November 14, a Moscow City Court judge decided to dismiss the jury after three jurors failed to appear in court.

In her last interview given to RFE/RL Politkovskaya discussed Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic, and the issues of torture and abduction in Chechnya.

Two days after the interview Politkovskaya was shot dead.

Among many tributes to Politkovskaya, the Russian Union of Journalists established a prize in her name. In 2013 the award was given to Olga Allenova, an investigative journalist for “Kommersant,” a Russian independent news and business daily.

--Anna Shamanska