Fifteen years since the murder of Anna Politkovskaya: a story of impunity that remains unsolved

The murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, one of Russia’s most uncomfortable and influential voices, lasted 15 years this Thursday without the perpetrator of the crime being brought to justice. The case that caused bubbles at the national level is seen by many as a paradigm of impunity and remains unsolved.

Politkovskaya, who had been threatened several times because of her work, ended on October 7, 2006 when she was shot four times in the elevator of her home. The journalist was engrossed in an investigation into the repression and violence perpetrated by the Russian army during the Second Chechen War in 1999.

His crime sparked a violent wave of criticism. Despite an attempted poisoning and a mock execution, Politkovskaya did not stop. Shortly before his death, he announced that he was investigating cases of torture in prisons in Chechnya.

Fifteen years since the murder of Anna Politkovskaya: a story of impunity that remains unsolved
Fifteen years since the murder of Anna Politkovskaya: a story of impunity that remains unsolved

His goal of bringing Chechen President Ramzan Kadirov to the dock in this case has never materialized. Today, however, many see her as a symbol of resistance and courage, especially for not having left Russia.

For the Kremlin, “immediate punishment of his murder is of the utmost importance,” as its spokesman Dimitri Peskov pointed out, who recalled that it is currently unknown who commissioned the murder, which took place on the same day as the president. Vladimir Putin was 54 years old.

The Russian authorities have distanced themselves from the end of the investigation – the term of which expires this Thursday – and assured that they will not be able to assess the “legal possibilities” of the case or the decisions of those responsible. You’re not expanding the investigation either.

“We all know that many killings, especially made-to-order killings, are complex,” he said. In doing so, however, he also justified the fact that it was important for Moscow “that all perpetrators of the murder receive the punishment they deserve”.

Politkovskaya’s family, who were 48 years old, insist that the case is unfairly closed: although five men were convicted in 2014 of organizing, committing, or participating in the crime, none of them revealed the identity of the mastermind.

Among them is a former police officer – who admitted to organizing the murder – and a Chechen national who would have drafted the plan and who died in prison in 2017.

It is of vital importance for the EU that the Russian authorities succeed in bringing all those responsible for the murder to justice in order to end the “impunity” surrounding the case.

“Today we pay tribute to Anna Politkovskaya, an internationally recognized human rights defender who fought against violence and injustice and continued her heroic work despite repeated intimidation,” said EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell.

The European Court of Human Rights found evidence in 2018 that the Russian government had “failed to properly investigate the crime”. With this in mind, the court assured that although the necessary measures had been taken to bring those responsible for the murder to justice and sentenced, the authorities had not taken the necessary measures to identify the person responsible.

For this reason, Brussels is calling on Moscow “to ensure that everyone responsible for his murder is brought to justice in a transparent manner”. “We hope that Russia will act in accordance with its international obligations and its own current legislation (…) for the protection of human rights,” the text reads.

The commemoration of the editor’s death now comes as Russian civil society and independent media accuse the government of putting unprecedented pressure on the press, as well as activists and journalists whom it sometimes refers to as “foreign agents”.

The EU has insisted that it will continue to work to combat any “violation” of human rights and international law around the world and has expressed solidarity with the workers and people concerned.

For its part, the US government has recalled that his assassination was the result of the “courageous” work he did as a journalist to highlight the “human rights violations linked to the Chechnya conflict” and thus give a voice to the victims. “

It is of vital importance to Washington that Russia bring “all those responsible” for the crimes committed to justice. “The continued impunity for those who ordered his murder undermines the freedom of the press and expression and is a blow to the human rights situation in the country,” said the Foreign Ministry.

The US authorities have recognized the “perseverance” and “courage” of the journalist and of all those who try to report independently and are classified by the Kremlin as “foreign agents”. “We’re with them,” he said.

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