Russia fails to shield journalists from attacks: Amnesty
Five years after the murder of reporter Anna Politkovskaya, Russian rights activists and journalists still face "threats, intimidation, attacks and even murder," Amnesty International warned Friday.
The campaign group slammed Russia for failing to protect journalists and activists and called for it to investigate attacks effectively in a report, titled "Beaten up for Speaking Out."
The report was timed to come out five years after Politkovskaya, a campaigning journalist who highlighted Kremlin abuses in the Caucasus, was gunned down in a daylight attack in her apartment building in central Moscow.
Activists and journalists "are vilified, obstructed or ignored. They are also exposed to the very real risk of threats, intimidation, attacks and even murder," the report said.
It blamed a "deep-rooted failure on the part of the Russian authorities" to protect activists and journalists, saying that "attacks against them are formally condemned but institutionally tolerated."
It called for Russia to "fully, promptly and independently investigate attacks," criticising long-drawn-out investigations that failed to identify the masterminds.
While progress had been made with the investigation into Politkovskayas murder, "there is still no guarantee that all those involved, including those who ordered her killing, will be brought to justice," the group said in a statement.
The report said investigators must examine "whether the killing had been condoned, supported or ordered by government and/or law enforcement officials."
In a major recent development, a man serving as a senior Moscow police officer at the time of the crime, Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, was charged last month with murder. Investigators said he assigned staff to tail Politkovskaya and handed information and a weapon to the killers.
The report also cited the brutal beating of Kommersant business daily reporter Oleg Kashin in Movember last year, saying he had received threats before the attack, including from the youth wing of ruling party United Russia.
The case is still under investigation almost a year later, the report said.
© 2011 AFP