Five years since murder, Russia remembers Politkovskaya

7th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia on Friday marked five years since reporter Anna Politkovskaya, who chronicled rights abuses in Chechnya, was gunned down in Moscow, one of the most brazen assassinations of the Putin era.

The 48-year-old Politkovskaya, who was sharply critical of the then president Vladimir Putin and his strongman policies in the volatile North Caucasus, was shot dead in broad daylight in her apartment building in central Moscow on October 7, 2006.

Half a decade after her death, the mastermind of the murder is still not publicly known, the biggest disappointment of the long investigation into the one of the most shocking assassinations of Putin's Russia.

The authorities have so far failed to secure any convictions.

In a major development in the case however, Russia last month charged a former senior police officer, Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, with helping organise the murder in exchange for cash.

In August, investigators said they had information on the supposed mastermind of the killing, who has never been identified.

Dmitry Murutov, editor of the opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta where Politkovskaya worked, told AFP he expected the new trial to start no earlier than six months from now.

"Everyone will get his due sooner or later," Novaya Gazeta said Friday in a front-page tribute to one of its star journalists. "We don't want revenge -- we want the fulfilment of duty."

The journalist's supporters including the liberal Yabloko political party were set to lay flowers at the murder site in central Moscow later in the day.

Politkovskaya earned wide acclaim for her post-war reporting from Chechnya in the early 2000s, meticulously documenting torture, suffering and the heavy-handed tactics of Russian troops in the Caucasus.

She won international prizes for her reports accusing Prime Minister Putin, who is expected to run return to the Kremlin in March polls, of using the Chechen conflict to strangle democracy in Russia.

Her murder coincided with -- some said was timed for -- the birthday of Putin, who turns 59 on Friday.

Three days after the murder Russia's leader dismissed her ability to influence politics in Russia as "extremely insignificant."

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov has repeatedly slammed attempts to link Putin to Politkovskaya's murder.

Every time someone tried to read something significant into the date of her death, he said, he wanted to cry out: "'People, are you crazy to associate this with Putin?'"

© 2011 AFP

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