President George W. Bush has condemned the murder of the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. An investigative reporter and author, she was shot to death in the elevator of her apartment building in Moscow. According to her editor at the weekly newspaper Novaya Gazeta, in the days before her death, Ms. Politkovskaya was working on a story about torture and abductions in Chechnya.
"Born in the United States to Soviet diplomats, Anna Politkovskaya cared deeply about her country," President Bush said in a written statement. "Through her efforts to shine a light on human rights abuses and corruption, especially in Chechnya, she challenged her fellow Russians - and, indeed, all of us - to summon the courage and will, as individuals and societies, to struggle against evil and rectify injustices."
Personally courageous, committed to reporting the truth even in the face of death threats, Ms. Politkovskaya received numerous awards. They include the Golden Pen Award from the Russian Union of Journalists and the Prize for Journalism and Democracy from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Anna Politkovskaya was one of twelve journalists murdered in Russia in the last six years, including American journalist Paul Klebnikov in 2004. None of the perpetrators of those crimes has been brought to justice. Over that period, the Russian government has exerted increasing control over the media. According to the U.S. State Department, the Russian government has used its controlling ownership interest in all national television and radio stations, as well as the majority of influential regional stations, to restrict access to information about issues deemed sensitive. The government has severely restricted coverage by all media of events in Chechnya.
This was the intimidating context in which Anna Politkovskaya was killed. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called her "a real heroine. She was somebody who was in the best tradition of journalist, who went to the most difficult issues and tried to find out the truth. And it was a sign of a new Russia that she was doing that." State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said the U.S. "urges the Russian government to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation in order to find, prosecute, and bring to justice all those responsible for this heinous murder."
As Ambassador William Burns said at Anna Politkovskaya's funeral: "For the sake of Russia, I hope that Anna's tragic death will inspire respect for freedom of expression and the rule of law. For the sake of Russia, I hope that Anna's death will remind people of the importance of telling the truth, and seeking justice. For the sake of Russia, I hope that her death will not be in vain."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.