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Politkovskaya Murder Still Unsolved

Anna Politkovskaya
Anna Politkovskaya

A bungled investigation and legal process have left Politkovskaya's true killers free.

This month marks the 6th anniversary of the murder of renowned Russian journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya. She was shot and killed in the elevator of her apartment building for exposing human rights abuses in Chechnya.

A bungled investigation and legal process have left Politkovskaya's true killers free. In a written statement, State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said, “Justice will not be done until all involved in her murder have been identified and prosecuted.”

Journalism continues to be a dangerous profession in Russia. Those who criticize or challenge the government or well-connected business interests continue to be subject to physical attack, harassment, increased scrutiny from government agencies, and politically motivated prosecutions. Journalists and activists continue to suffer physical attack and even death for doing their jobs.

Those killed for their work in the last year include, Garun Kurbanov, Yakhya Magomedov, and Khazimurad Kamalov. According to Kommersant Vlast, there were 81 attacks on members of the press in 2011.

Moreover, many high-profile cases from previous years remain unsolved. They include the 2009 murder in Chechnya of Natalya Estemirova and the 2004 shooting in Moscow of Forbes Russia editor Paul Klebnikov. Mr. Klebnikov was murdered, perhaps for his investigations into corruption and human rights abuses in Chechnya. His killer has never been brought to justice. Writing for Novaya Gazeta and the Web site Kavkazsky Uzel, and reporting for Human Rights Watch and the Russian rights group Memorial, Ms. Estemirova had linked torture, disappearance, and murders to Chechen authorities.

The United States has long been concerned about the deadly attacks on journalists in Russia and the failure to bring those responsible to justice. Journalists across the globe who speak out against abuses and work to secure fundamental freedom for their fellow citizens must be free to report without fear of reprisal or intimidation.