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U.S. Urges Russia To Find Masterminds Of Politkovskaya Killing

A man holding a portrait of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya in Moscow on October 7, 2016, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of her murder.

The U.S. State Department has called on Russia to find and prosecute those who ordered the 2006 murder of prominent Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

In a statement released October 6 -- one day before the 11th anniversary of Politkovskaya's killing -- State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the journalist's reporting "brought to light the violation of human rights in Russia and the suffering of the victims of the war in the North Caucasus region."

"We continue to urge Russian authorities to identify and prosecute the person or persons who ordered, planned, and funded this terrible crime," Nauert said.

Politkovskaya, a critic of President Vladimir Putin whose dogged reporting exposed high-level corruption in Russia and rights abuses in its Chechnya region, was shot dead in her Moscow apartment building on October 7, 2006.

In 2014, two men were sentenced to life and three others to prison terms for their involvement in the crime.

Relatives and colleagues say justice will not be done until those who ordered her killing are identified and convicted.

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

In her statement, Nauert said that recent reports of a campaign of torture and other abuses against gay men in Chechnya, as well as alleged extrajudicial killings there, "leave us deeply concerned that human rights violations are still regularly committed with impunity in this region."

In April, Politkovskaya's newspaper, the independent Novaya Gazeta, was the first news outlet to report on the alleged detentions and violence targeting gay men in Chechnya.

Chechnya's Kremlin-backed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has denied such abuses despite accounts from gay men who say they were victimized in this campaign.

Nauert added that the "unsolved murders of Ms. Politkovskaya -- a dual U.S.-Russian citizen -- and other journalists in Russia, as well as threats against journalists exposing more recent abuses in Chechnya, have only worsened an atmosphere of intimidation for the independent press."

The U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists in April called on Russian authorities to investigate threats against Novaya Gazeta journalist Yelena Milashina, who broke the story on the alleged anti-gay campaign in Chechnya, and the newspaper's staff over its reporting on the issue.

Russian officials regularly brush off U.S. criticism of Moscow's human rights record, accusing Washington itself of rights violations and a reckless foreign policy.

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