The fear is still alive – after five years

Five years after the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya no one has been convicted for the murder. The lack of rule of law continues to weaken the critical journalism in Russia.

Anna Politkovskaya reported on abuses in war-torn Chechnya, corruption and abuse of power. On October 7, 2006, her life ended in a stairwell in Moscow.

“The Russian authorities send very clear signals that you should not dig into irregularities if you don’t want to get in trouble, because there is no one who can help you”, said Robert Hårdh, Executive Director of Civil Rights Defenders, in an interview with Göteborgsposten.

After Politkovskaya’s death an investigation led to a trial of three people. All were acquitted. In May, a second person was arrested, suspected of having carried out the assassination.

“We do not know who is the mastermind behind it all. There are rumors all the time that there are powerful men behind the murder of Politkovskaya”, says Hårdh.

He notes that Politkovskaya’s fate is far from unusual in Russia. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), assesses the country as one of the most dangerous countries for journalists – and one of the worst on investigating the crimes that occur.

Nadezhda Prusenkova, who works at Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper where Anna Politkovskaya made her name, says that media coverage changed after Politkovskaya’s death.

“Many journalists were frightened and stopped, and the newspapers became more Putin-friendly”, she says.

Today, Novaya Gazeta doesn’t have any journalists in Chechnya.

“We can not keep our colleagues alive there”, says Prusenkova.

Madina Magomadov, chairman of the Human Rights Association of Mother’s of Chechnya, mourning both Anna Politkovskaya and that the Russian reporting of the conflict in Northern Caucasus is silenced.

“There is currently no one who can and dare to take that spot. Once in a century such a person appears”, said Magomadov by telephone from Grozny.

Read the article in Göteborgsposten (in Swedish)

Categories: Opinion.
Tags: Anna Politkovskaya, GP, and Robert Hårdh.
Regions: The North Caucasus.