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Russian Journalist’s Murder – Response To Arrests

  • August 28th, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

anna-politkovskaya.jpgCOMMENTARY: The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists has expressed satisfaction at news of arrests being made in connection with the murder of Anna Politkovskaya in Russia — while demanding to know more.

RUSSIA AND MEDIA, AND THE TOUGH-GUY STANCE

The shooting of the renowned investigative reporter in Moscow last October punctuated a chain of actions against independent mass media, and against opponents of the present Russian government.

The government under President Vladimir Putin has characterised itself as a tough-guy regime, ready to engage in conflict of any kind and moving to restore some of the military and diplomatic status of Soviet times.

It has been in serious bickering with the European Union, over Winter oil supplies, and over its testy relations with former Soviet satrap states now part of the “West”: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland and Romania.

It has denied any involvement in the murder of the disaffected former Russian security officer Alexander Litvinenko in London late last year.

Mr Putin, close to the end of his constitutionally permitted term, but avowedly ready to continue in some sort of position of influence, has announced the resumption of strategic patrols by nuclear-armed bombers — and has spoken publicly about a possible new generation of missiles.

RECENT INCIDENTS

Recent incidents have seen his government close down the last BBC radio outlet in Moscow, and a decision registered against it in the European Court of Human Rights over the killing of civilians during the civil war in Chechnya.

See EUAustralia Online for some of the background this year :- (Litvinenko) Updates … 20.7.07; Court censures Russia over Chechnyan deaths 31.7.07; postings also also on 6.6.07, 6-8.6.07, 6.7.07, 18.7.07.
The late Anna Politkovskaya wrote critically against human rights abuses in the Chechnyan conflict; at one time she was poisoned, almost fatally on that occasion.

Vladimir Putin is scheduled to visit Australia next month for the Heads of Government meeting of APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, 8-9.9.07), with some accustomed controversy.

Australian Ministers have said he might want to strike a deal while there to purchase uranium.
JOURNALISTS’ STATEMENT

The following is the statement released this week (27.8.07) by the IFJ:

IFJ Welcomes Politkovskaya Arrests But Says More Evidence Needed of Russian Action to Counter Impunity

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today gave a cautious welcome to news that 10 people have been arrested for their involvement in the murder of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

“We are pleased that arrests have been made,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “But like our colleagues in Russia we are anxious for more information. We need to know that not only the hired killers of Anna Politkovskaya are brought to justice, but also those who ordered her assassination.”

The IFJ, which is supporting an investigation of unexplained killings of journalists in Russia over the past 15 years, says it will watch developments carefully. “This is a welcome first step, but there is a long way to go before we can be confident that justice will be delivered,” said White.

Russian Prosecutor-General Yuri Chaika announced today that 10 people have been held in connection with the murder of Politkovskaya, an investigative reporter of international renown, on October 7th last year. He gave no further details.

The killing brought international attention to the danger that journalists face in Russia. Politkovskaya was shot outside her Moscow apartment, one of four killings of media staff in Russia in 2006. Around 255 journalists and media staff have been killed in Russia since 1993. Many of these deaths have been explained, but since President Vladimir Putin came to power around 20 killings of journalists have taken place and none of them have been satisfactorily resolved.

At its World Congress in Moscow in May, the IFJ unanimously adopted a resolution calling for an immediate end to manipulation of journalism by private and political interests.

“If Russia prosecutes those who ordered Anna’s killing it will send a strong message that there will no longer be impunity for journalists’ killers,” said White.

The IFJ has developed a database on the killings of journalists in Russia since the early 1990s. Based on the work of Russia’s two media monitors, the Glasnost Defence Foundation and the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, the IFJ database details when, where and how so many journalists and media workers have died or gone missing.

For more information contact the IFJ at 32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries worldwide
Picture: Anna Politkovskaya, Google – www.russiablog.org

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