This month marks the ninth anniversary of the murder of renowned Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. She was shot and killed in the elevator of her apartment building for exposing human rights abuses in Chechnya.
In June 2014, a Moscow court convicted five men for the 2006 murder of Ms. Politkovskaya and sentenced them to between 12 and 20 years in prison. Despite these convictions and the 2012 conviction of Dmitriy Pavlyuchenkov for organizing the murder, the identity of the person who ordered Politkovskaya’s killing remains unknown. The United States urges the Russian government to bring to justice those who ordered this crime.
According to the latest State Department human rights report, there was no progress in establishing accountability in a number of other high-profile killings of journalists, including the 2004 killing of Paul Klebnikov in Moscow and the 2009 killing of Natalia Estemirova in Chechnya. Additional journalists murdered in recent years in the North Caucasus include Timur Kuashev, Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev, and Kazbek Gakkiyev.
Russian journalists and bloggers who have uncovered various forms of government malfeasance continue to face harassment, either in the form of direct threats to their physical safety or threats to their security or livelihood, often through legal prosecution.
By passing new repressive laws and selectively employing existing ones, the Russian government systematically harasses, discredits, prosecutes, imprisons, detains, and fines individuals and entities that engage in activities critical of the government.
The Russian government has fined selected nongovernmental institutions and stigmatized them by adding them to a list of registered “foreign agents.” Most recently an appeals court upheld a $10,000 legal fine against Human Rights Center Memorial, one of Russia’s best-known independent human rights groups.
The arbitrary use and the abuse of the Russian legal system have created a climate of fear and self-censorship in Russia and put journalists and human rights defenders at risk. The United States supports the fundamental right of all Russians to free expression and assembly and calls on the Russian government to do the same.