Friday, February 20, 2009

Will the real Killers of Anna Politkovskaya Ever be Found?

In a country where "nothing works," especially when "the system" has its reasons for hating those who publish information unvetted by the system, justice is scarcely impartial and the truth is hard to come by. The loss of Politkovskaya was a loss to the world because she so fearlessly declared the abuses of the highest officials as well as the tragic personal costs of those abuses. She was an example to journalists around the world -- of how to sniff out details the authorities are trying to hide, and also of what happens when the venality of authorities is shouted out to the world. [Thanks, by the way, to Registan for keeping a list of journalists murdered.]
Some selections from the NYTimes are below.

New York Times February 20, 2009
Jury Acquits 3 in Killing of a Russian Journalist

MOSCOW — A jury here ruled unanimously on Thursday to acquit three low-level suspects in the murder of a prominent investigative journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, frustrating hopes for bringing to justice those responsible for ordering the killing.

. . . Coming exactly a month after the killing in broad daylight of a human rights lawyer and a 25-year-old reporter, the verdict was more cause for pessimism in human rights circles about political violence.

“The fact that no one at all has been held accountable for this murder sends a very clear message to potential perpetrators: You can do it, and you can get away with it,” said Tatyana Lokshina, deputy director of the Human Rights Watch Moscow bureau. “Brazen killings have become almost routine in the Russian Federation.”

. . . But two and a half years later, the three men who were tried on murder charges were peripheral figures: . . . the suspected triggerman, . . . has never been found. Sergei M. Sokolov, deputy editor of the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, where Ms. Politkovskaya worked, attributed the result to “resistance from the whole system,” in particular the refusal to prosecute members of law enforcement and special forces.

“There were two verdicts delivered today,” he said. “One, de jure, was the acquittal of the defendants. But a guilty verdict was leveled against the corrupt system that exists here. Nothing works, not one governmental institution works.”

. . . “Russia is a country where for years and years now, journalists who cover human rights issues and corruption are being murdered and assaulted,” . . . “It has to be admitted, at the highest level of the country, that there can be no free speech in a country where the best journalists are afraid for their lives for doing their jobs.”

. . . Ms. Politkovskaya, 48, distinguished herself covering Moscow’s war in Chechnya, which she characterized as “state versus group terrorism.” She documented torture, mass executions, kidnapping and the sale by Russian soldiers of Chechen corpses to their families for proper Islamic burial, concluding, “What response could one expect but more terrorism, and the recruitment of more resistance fighters?”

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