Sunday, June 1, 2014

Five Found Guilty of Killing Politkovskaya, But Questions Remain Unanswered

Rabin Man Shakya

The news stories that a Moscow court recently found five men guilty of assassinating award-winning investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, a frequent Kremlin critic who was shot dead in the elevator of her apartment block in 2006, has raised further questions about the motive and the ultimate and real mastermind of the assassination.

The five men that a jury panel convicted on May 20, 2014 are three Chechen brothers - Rustam, Ibrahim and Dzhabrail Makhmudov - their uncle, Lom-Ali Gautukayev (an alleged member of the criminal underworld), and a former Interior Ministry employee, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov. The court did not identify either a motive or a mastermind,  and  according to media reports, the Russian Investigative Committee said it is continuing its investigation into the murder.

There is no doubt the Kremlin and pro-Kremlin authorities in Chechnya were not happy with the modus operandi of Anna. And she knew that her life was in jeopardy because she was waging a war against the group of perpetrators in Chechnya

According to Novaya Gazeta's chief editor Dmitry Muratov, Anna was supposed to file a lengthy news story on the torture practices believed to be used by the Chechen security detachments  known notoriously as Kadyrovshiki (goons of Chechen president Kadyrov). Politkovskaya derided Chechen president Kadyrov as the "Chechen Stalin of our days" in one of her last interviews.

It is to be noted that Anna Politkovskaya was born in New York in 1958 because her parents were Soviet diplomats at the UN. After finishing her MA in Journalism from the Faculty of Journalism at the Moscow State University, she worked for different newspapers: Izvestiya (1982-1993), Obshchaya Gazeta (1994-1999) and Novaya Gazeta (1999-2006).

As the favorite beat of Anna was Chechnya, she published numerous news stories in Novaya Gazeta about deteriorating conditions in Chechnya. Anna was laureate of several prestigious international awards for her journalistic works. A number of books including "Putin's Russia" were authored by Anna Politkovskaya.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, 56 journalists have been killed in Russia with motives confirmed and another 24 killed with motives unconfirmed making Russia one of the deadliest countries for the journalists.The killing of Politkovskaya and some other prominent journalists has underscored Russia's reputation as one of the world's most dangerous countries for the journalists and reporters and has raised fresh questions about the democratic commitments of the Putin administration. Not without reasons, Russia has slipped from a Freedom House ranking of 'partly free' to 'not free'. Russia is ranked 148th out of 180 countries in the 2014 press freedom index prepared by Reporters Without Borders.

To treat a journalist as a felon or a criminal for doing his or her job - seeking out information the government does not want made public and divulging the truth about its misdeeds - outrageous and unacceptable. Needless to say, Anna was harassed, intimidated and even tortured several times during her journalistic innings.

Anna was assassinated for what she wrote. Observers believe that her death, palpably, does not have anything personal to do with the convicted criminals who must have killed her on somebody's order. "The murder will only be solved when the name of the person who ordered it is known", Anna Stavitskaya, an attorney for Politkovskaya's family was quoted as saying by RIA, a Russian news agency.

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