Two Years On, Russia Remembers Anna Politkovskaya

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Journalist Anna Politkovskaya was murdered in a contract-style killing on October 7th 2008. Two years later, as the case moves into court but remains unsolved, asked a group of Russian public figures a simple question: “What has changed in these two years?” Their responses were telling:

[further reading:
Hundreds gather to remember slain Russian reporter (AP)
Politkovskaya Case Hits Court (Moscow Times) ]

Igor Yakovenko, Secretary General of the Russian Union of Journalists:

“Of course the country changed for the worse. The single fact that one of the brightest, most talented and very sincere people has died makes the country worse… The country could not withstand this trial. This was a provocation, a provocation to the journalist and civil communities. The country did not give it a worthy response, and did not withstand it. In Turkey, when a journalist was killed, the whole country took to the streets. As did Ukraine when [Georgiy] Gongadze was killed. After Anna Politkovskaya’s murder, nothing happened to this effect in Russia. The country did not pass the test of its conscience. The authorities received a signal from society that they could do anything they wanted. The society, journalists, the political community in no way reacted to Politkovskaya’s murder. As the country’s master of the house, [Vladimir] Putin said that her death caused more harm than did her work. He said these insulting words and found himself completely in the right. In these two years, journalism has thinned out. The fields of politics and public opinion have become worse. They have become deserted.”

Mikhail Kriger, human rights activist:

“Freedom and truth have become scarcer. There is not one person who you can count on, knowing that he won’t betray you. There is less justice.”

Alexander Podrabinek, editor-in-chief of the Prima-News information agency:

“I would say that over these two years, those tendencies which first surfaced after Politkovskaya’s murder became more readily apparent. They were exhibited in all their force. Before, the authorities allowed for violence against individual people, and today they don’t stop at violence against neighboring countries. The celebration of insolence and cynicism is marching ahead at full speed. The authorities are only growing stronger in this celebration.”

Garry Kasparov, leader of the United Civil Front:

“It has become worse. The regime kills such people! This serves as evidence that everything is plummeting into an abyss. No one knows who the masterminds and the perpetrators are. The mastermind, above all, is the regime itself. Specific people aren’t even as important. From the day of Politkovskaya’s murder, the persecution of freedom of speech and civil freedoms has intensified. The acting regime constitutes a threat. A sentence must be handed down to the killers. But it will only be real if it is handed down to the whole system.”

Tatyana Lokshina, deputy head of the Moscow office of Human Rights Watch:

“Today is two years from the moment of Anna’s death. And even though the Prosecutor General is constantly informing us that the inquiry continues, so far, the killer hasn’t turned up on the defendant’s bench. We are observing a negative trend in a series of critical human rights problems. This includes the dangerously explosive situation in the North Caucasus, which Anna wrote much about. First and foremost is Ingushetia, which many are calling the new hot spot, and Dagestan –an extremely unstable, explosive region. We also note the generally dismal state of rights and freedoms in the country, and the plight of non-governmental organizations. At the end of the summer, an armed conflict between Russia and Georgia took place, the first conflict in the world between member countries of the Council of Europe, and this speaks for itself.”

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