Moscow remembers Politkovskaya four years after murder

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Hundreds of people gathered in the Russian capital Thursday to commemorate journalist Anna Politkovskaya, accusing the regime of Vladimir Putin of having her murdered four years ago.

Demonstrators held flowers and portraits of the journalist, who was a rare voice to denounce human rights abuses in Chechnya and criticise then-president Vladimir Putin.

"I cannot believe that powerful people in Moscow and Chechnya cannot find out who assassinated Anna. I don't believe that detectives in Europe have not been able to arrest the killer," Dmitry Muratov, editor of Novaya Gazeta, where Politkovskaya worked, shouted from the tribune.

"Perhaps, the political will (to demand a thorough investigation) was not there?" he asked.

Politkovskaya was gunned down in the staircase of her apartment building in central Moscow on October 7, 2006. Three people have been acquitted on charges of being accessories to her murder, and prosecutors have requested additional time to continue their probe.

Putin infamously quipped that the journalist's "ability to influence political life in Russia was extremely insignificant", speaking in Germany three days after her murder.

Many speakers at the rally said that Politkovskaya's murder did not occur on Putin's birthday by accident.

"Russia is a country of symbols. The murder of Politkovskaya on Putin's birthday says a lot," said opposition politician and chess world champion Garry Kasparov.

"It's not a coincidence," said opposition politician and former prime minister Boris Nemtsov, "It's a style of ruling. The authorities hate journalists who investigate their criminal activities," he said.

"It's a state murder," said Alexei Simonov, a writer and president of the Glasnost foundation.

© 2010 AFP

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