Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya remembered 10 years after murder
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On October 7 it was exactly ten years ago that Russian journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya was killed in Moscow. While in Russia her case was never solved, family members are still trying to find justice at the European Court of Human Rights.
Coinciding with the Nobel Peace Prize today, the organization Raw in War, that focuses on women in war zones gave out its yearly Anna Politkovskaya prize, and it went to two human rights activists: Jineth Bedoya Lima from Colombia and Russian human rights worker Valentina Cherevatenko, chairperson of the Women of the Don Union
Women of the Don Union is dedicated to to supporting civilians whose lives continue to be affected by violence in the North Caucasus, Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the fight for justice for Anna continuesl.
“We are expecting judgement soon in the ongoing case at the European Court of Human Rights,” says the lawyer of Politkovskaya’s family, Karinna Moskalenko.
“Unfortunately it took many years. But our position at the European Court of Human Rights is that the right to life has been violated by the authorities, and we have tried to prove that with some circumstantial evidence, pointing at the responsibility of the authorities.”
Like many, Karinna remembers Anna every day. “She was totally beautiful! Her face, her actions, her ways of thinking, she was absolutely beautiful. And we miss her because she it is impossible to find an equal.”
“There are some quite courageous journalists now in Russia, but nobody can do what she was doing. People felt that when Anna comes to their case, they could be saved. And for me she is still alive,” she says.
Politovskaya became famous worldwide because of her unrelenting reporting on the second Chechen war, which was published in Novaya Gazeta, and later reworked into several books that were mostly published outside Russia, among which A Dirty War: A Russian Reporter in Chechnya; A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya and Putin’s Russia, in which she exposed the Russian president as a power hungry product of his own (KGB-) history.
“Anna was really the single voice in Chechnya” says. Mariana Katzarova, another friend of Anna Politkovskaya and founder of Raw in War.
“She was bravely reporting the stories about killing civilians, torture, persecution of the independent voices within Chechnya, also atrocities that were happening, bombardments of civilians, internally displaced people's convoys for example, by the Russian federal army, and also the persecution of civilians by the Moscow chechen militia," she says.
Politkovskaya was directly threatened by Ramzan Kadyrov, the strongman of Chechnya, when she met him for interviews. A short time later, when she was back in Moscow, she was murdered.
The investigation that followed resulted in a longwinding and frustrating cycle of trials and re-trials. Finally in 2014, five men were sentenced to prison, including three contract killers from Chechnya. But it became never clear who had given the order for the killing.
“There are no answers to the main questions: who ordered this crime, who organized all this, who financed this so-called expensive crime,” says Moskalenko.
“All this gives us, and the members of her family, a feeling of dissatisfaction with the results of the investigation. The authorities were not serious in their attempt to solve the crime, and they were not doing all the necessary investigations [...] to discover who is really responsible,” she says.
But even if the European Court for Human Rights finds Russian authorities guilty of playing part in the killing of Anna Politkovskaya, it may prove a tough job to prosecute, as it is very likely that Moscow will not respect the outcome of the trial, if it is not in its advantage.