Chilling news from Russia:
Russians and Chechens alike mourned journalist and critic of President Vladimir Putin Anna Politkovskaya on Sunday, saying her murder was a political killing to stifle the free press.
The United States said it was “shocked and profoundly saddened” by the murder of the 48-year-old mother of two, who won numerous prizes for her dogged pursuit of rights abuses by Putin’s government.
But there was still no word from the Kremlin, whose campaign against separatist rebels in the violent southern province of Chechnya had often been the target of Politkovskaya’s investigative reporting.
On Sunday, Putin chaired Russia’s powerful Security Council to “discuss various issues of internal and external policy,” the president’s Web site http://www.kremlin.ru said, but made no mention of Politkovskaya’s murder.
She was shot dead on Saturday at her apartment block in central Moscow in a killing prosecutors linked to her work.
Washington and the European Union urged Russia to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation “to bring to justice all those responsible for this heinous murder.” Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika has taken charge of the probe.
In the days before her death, Politkovskaya had been working on a story about torture in Chechnya, which had been due to run on Monday, along with photographs, her newspaper Novaya Gazeta said. It said her death had disrupted the publication.
Clues from the Independent:
A discarded pistol and four spent shells. A mysterious thin man in a black baseball cap. The murder yesterday of Anna Politkovskaya, the most famous reporter in Russia, is a story as sinister as anything she investigated in her fearless, award-winning career.
The 48-year-old, lauded by journalists and writers around the world for her exposés in Chechnya, appears to have been assassinated. Her most powerful enemy was President Vladimir Putin. The murder came two days before she was due to publish an exposé of the Chechnyan Prime Minister.
The gun found near her apartment block in central Moscow was a 9mm Makarov, known as the weapon of choice for Russian hitmen. Police said they were searching for a man in his twenties dressed in a black cap, seen just before neighbours discovered her body in the lift.
The Regnum News Agency has a round-up and background. So does Joe Gandelman. Protesters rally in Moscow. The EU calls for a “thorough investigation.” The World Association of Newspapers condemns the killing. The State Department issues a statement:
The United States said it was “shocked and profoundly saddened” by the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin.
There was still no word from the Kremlin on the killing of Politkovskaya, a 48-year-old mother of two who won worldwide fame and numerous prizes for her dogged pursuit of rights abuses by Putin’s government, particularly in the violent southern province of Chechnya.
She was shot dead on Saturday at her apartment block in central Moscow in a killing prosecutors said was linked to her work.
Paying tribute to the indomitable journalist, the U.S. State Department said Politkovskaya was “personally courageous and committed to seeking justice even in the face of previous death threats”.
“The United States urges the Russian government to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation in order to find, prosecute, and bring to justice all those responsible for this heinous murder,” it said in a statement on its Web site http://www.state.gov.
“The intimidation and murder of journalists — 12 in Russia in the past six years, including American citizen Paul Klebnikov on July 9, 2004 — is an affront to free and independent media and to democratic values.”
AP lists other journalists killed in Russia over the past dozen years:
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July 9, 2004: Paul Klebnikov, the U.S.-born editor of the Russian edition of Forbes who had been investigating the murky business world in Russia, is gunned down as he leaves his Moscow office. Two ethnic Chechens accused of carrying out the murder were acquitted earlier this year.
April 29, 2002: Valery Ivanov, editor of the newspaper Tolyatinskoye Oborzreniye in the southern city Russian city of Togliatti, is shot dead outside his home. The newspaper was well-known for its reports on local organized crime, drug trafficking and official corruption.
June 7, 1998: Larisa Yudina, editor of the opposition newspaper Sovetskaya Kalmykia in the southern Russian region of Kalmykia, is stabbed to death and her body dumped in a pond on the outskirts of the regional capital, Elista. Two men, both former government aides, were caught and convicted of murder.
March 1, 1995: Vladislav Listyev, executive director of the newly formed public television station ORT, is shot dead as he enters his apartment block. Listyev was one of Russia’s best-known TV journalists. Some observers suspect his murder was connected to a controversy over whether to permit advertising on the new network.
Oct. 17, 1994: Dmitry Kholodov, an investigative reporter for the Moscow newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets, is killed in a bomb blast at the newspaper’s office. Kholodov, who had been investigating mafia connections with the military, was killed when he opened a briefcase he believed contained secret documents.
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