Thursday, 19 February 2009

Shame on you, Russia

More than 30 months after the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya was brutally murdered outside her Moscow flat, a Russian jury acquitted the three main suspects this morning.

The two brothers Bzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov and the former police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov heard this morning the jury had come to a “not guilty” verdict. They were suspected of aiding the murder of the investigative journalist. Rustam Makhmudov, who is the third brother of Bzhabrail and Ibragim, remains at large and he is thought to be the actual killer. Last summer there were unconfirmed reports he is hiding somewhere in Eastern Europe. Although Russian prosecutors said they would appeal against the verdicts delivered by the jury, hope the murder will ever be solved and justice will ever be done is fading away rapidly.

The most remarkable element of this case is that no one has been named or has been accused of ‘ordering the killing.’ Ms Politkovskaya was one of the few fierce critics of the Kremlin and (former) president Putin, who is currently the prime minister and still running the show behind the scenes. Politkovskaya worked for the small-circulation newspaper Novaya Gazeta and was shot just outside her apartment building in October 2006. The killing highlighted the risks for journalists to do their job properly in Russia. According to the American Committee to Protect Journalists Politkovskaya was the 13th journalist to have been killed in Russia under Putin’s presidency. Although her death shocked the international community and was widely reported in the west, it was hardly noticed by the Russian press or public.

Vsevolod Bogdanov, the chairman of the Russian Union of Journalists told Interfax news agency: “I am ashamed of my country. I have this feeling of incredible shame - at what level was the investigation conducted that the jurors delivered this verdict unanimously? The evidence was overwhelming."

(pictures, information: Novaya Gazeta,,