International reaction to the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya

International reaction to the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya

The assassination of Anna Politkovskaya, the Russian journalist, writer, and recipients of numerous international awards, took place on Saturday, 7 October 2006. She was found shot dead in the elevator of her apartment block in central Moscow. Her murder, viewed as a contract killing, sparked a strong international reaction. [cite web|language=Russian|url=|title=Anna Politkovskaya is murdered||accessdate=2006-10-09] [cite web|url=|title=Chechen war reporter found dead|publisher=BBC News|date=2006-10-07|accessdate=2006-10-09]

Reaction in Russia

Vitaly Yaroshevsky, deputy editor of "Novaya Gazeta" where she worked, said: "The first thing that comes to mind is that Anna was killed for her professional activities. We don't see any other motive for this terrible crime." [ [ Chechen war reporter found dead] , by BBC News] He said Politkovskaya gave an interview to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty last week in which she said she was a witness in a criminal case against Ramzan Kadyrov in connection with abductions in Chechnya - a case based on her reporting. In that same interview, she called Kadyrov the "Stalin of our days". [ [ New and Old Ramzan (Russian)] , RFE/RL, [ Partial English translation] ]

Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet President who promoted transparency and democracy and is concerned about the increasing lack of pluralism in the country, became a minority shareholder to support the newspaper Novaya Gazeta this summer. Gorbachev told the Russian news agency Interfax about this assassination: "It is a savage crime against a professional and serious journalist and a courageous woman", "It is a blow to the entire democratic, independent press. It is a grave crime against the country, against all of us." [cite web|url=,1,3957792.story?coll=la-headlines-world&ctrack=1&cset=true|title=Acclaimed Reporter Killed in Russia|author=Holley, David|publisher=Los Angeles Times|date=2006-10-08|accessdate=2006-10-09] . He also said the killing might have been intended to cast a pall over Putin's Kremlin. cite web|url=|title=Politkovskaya Gunned Down Near Home|author=Schreck, Carl|coauthors=David Nowak|publisher=The Moscow Times|date=2006-10-09|accessdate=2006-10-08] cite web|url=|title=Politkovskaya Gunned Down ]

Russian president Vladimir Putin told his U.S. counterpart George W. Bush on the phone Monday that Russia's law enforcement agencies were doing everything possible to investigate the murder of Politkovskaya. Two days later in Dresden,Germany, Putin told reporters:

tatements by international organizations

Abi Wright, a spokeswoman for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said: "She was an intrepid and brave reporter who repeatedly risked her life to report the news from that region. It's a devastating development for journalism in Russia." [cite web|url=|title=War reporter shot dead in Moscow|author=Ustinova, Tatiana|publisher=ABC News|date=2006-10-07|accessdate=2006-10-09]

Aidan White of the International Federation of Journalists described her as bravest of the new breed of brave reporters who emerged in the dying days of the Soviet Union. "She faced down threats from all sides and was an inspiration to journalists both at home and abroad. Her death is a shocking outrage that will stun the world of journalism."cite web|url=|title=IFJ Says Killing of Politkovskaya an "Outrage That Will Stun World Journalism"|publisher=International Federation of Journalists|date=2006-10-07|accessdate=2006-10-09]

Amnesty International said that it was appalled by the murder. Nicola Duckworth, Director of the organization's Europe and Central Asia Programme, said "Russia has lost a brave and dedicated human rights defender, who spoke out fearlessly against violence and injustice, and campaigned tirelessly to see justice done."cite web|url=|title=Russian Federation: Amnesty International condemns murder of human rights journalist Anna Politkovskaya|publisher=Amnesty International|date=2006-10-07|accessdate=2006-10-09]

Jiri Grusa, President of International PEN said that "Anna Politkovskaya (was) a courageous writer known for her criticism not only of the Chechen war but also of the totalitarian backlash characterizing the latest developments in Russia. Her death raises serious concerns and confirms all the fears," and "We protest in the strongest terms the situation in Russia that has allowed this to occur."cite web|url=|title=PEN Statement on the Murder of Anna Politkovskaya in Russia|publisher=The International PEN|date=2006-10-07|accessdate=2006-10-10]

A song dedicated to her

Young Finnish musicians wrote a song in Politkovskaya's memory. The song is titled "Uuden ajan kynnyksellä — laulu Anna Politkovskajalle" ("On the Threshold of a New Era — A Song for Anna Politkovskaya") and it was recorded on 19 October in Helsinki. The song is released on the Internet on 20 October for free (although donations to [ Zhima Ditt] are accepted) and an accompanying music video will be released on YouTube. If there's enough demand, a CD single will also be produced. []


On 8 October 2006, hundreds rallied in downtown Moscow to protest the murder of Anna Politkovskaya and the recent crackdown on ethnic Georgians.cite web|url=|title=500 people rally in Moscow to protest journalist's murder, crackdown on Georgians|publisher=The International Herald Tribune|date=2006-10-08|accessdate=2006-10-09] The demonstration was described by the Moscow-based liberal "Echo of Moscow" radio station as "the largest protest rally of the opposition recently held in Russia."cite web|language=Russian|url=|title=Многочисленная акция памяти Анны Политковской прошла в центре Москвы на Пушкинской площади|publisher=The Ekho Moskvy radio|date=2006-10-08|accessdate=2006-10-09] During the day following information about Politkovskaya's death, there was a demonstration and memorial consisting of 500 people in Moscow, as well as 300 people gathering in St. Petersburg. Further rallies and vigils took place in other Russian cities, including St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Saratov and Krasnoyarsk, as well as London, Paris, New York, and Washington.cite web|url=|title=Ingush Police Break Up Rally Honoring Politkovskaya|date=2006-10-19|accessdate=2007-05-19]

A day after the murder more than one thousand people (later estimation: over 3000) gathered at the Russian embassy in Helsinki, Finland to pay their respects to Politkovskaya (according to "Helsingin Sanomat" article published on October 22, there were about 3000 people). The demonstration was silent, with people holding candles. Two of Politkovskaya's books have been published in Finland as translated editions.cite web|url=|title=More than 1,000 attend vigil for murdered Russian journalist|date=2006-10-09|accessdate=2006-10-10|]

On 10 October, 2,000 demonstrators called Putin a "murderer" during his visit to Dresden, Germany.cite web|url=|title=Putin mit "Mörder, Mörder"-Rufen empfangen|language=German|date=2006-10-10|accessdate=2006-10-11|publisher=Die Welt] cite web|url=,1518,441835,00.html|title=Putin in Dresden mit "Mörder"-Rufen empfangen|language=German|date=2006-10-10|accessdate=2006-10-11|publisher=Der Spiegel] cite web|url=|title=Putin faces 'murderer' taunt as journalist is buried|language=|date=2006-10-11|accessdate=2006-10-11|publisher=Telegraph]

About 400 demonstrators gathered in central Moscow’s Pushkin Square on 7 April 2007, exactly six months after the journalist’s murder, "Ekho Moskvy" radio reported the same day. Yabloko party leader Grigory Yavlinsky told the gathering that the killings of Politkovskaya, journalist Dmitry Kholodov (in 1994), Russian Public TV head Vladislav Listyev (in 1995) and newspaper editor Larisa Yudina, who headed his party’s Kalmykia branch (in 1998), like "many other well-known and obscure political murders," were "never investigated", [] reported. And on April 5, Reporters sans Frontieres had said it was waiting with "the utmost impatience" for Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika to reveal the findings of his office's investigation of Politkovskaya's murder. [ Hundreds protest in Moscow six months after journalist’s murder] 10 April 2007] "Statements praising his department's staff offer no guarantee that this horrible crime is being solved," the organization’s press release added, referring to Chaika’s March 29 comments hailing the work done by those in charge of the investigation.

"The passing months must not result in any weakening in the campaign on Politkovskaya's behalf. We must continue to press for justice to be done in this case and for an end to impunity in Russia." RSF added, "If the authorities fail to produce concrete and conclusive evidence, the creation of an international commission of enquiry or a Russian parliamentary commission of enquiry could prove necessary." RSF quoted Novaya gazeta editor Sergei Sokolov as saying, "For the time being, we have no criticism to make about the work of the prosecutor's office." Sokolov had refused to divulge any details about the case because, he said, "a leak could have a disastrous effect on the investigation", the press freedom organization added.

Official statements by governments

, expressed: :

"outrage" at the murder, calling on the world community "to condemn in the strongest possible terms the demonstrative execution of one of the foremost champions of human rights and freedoms, and to conduct an independent international inquiry into this heinous act of terrorism." [cite web|url=|title=Statement by Akhmed Zakaev, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria||date=2006-10-08|accessdate=2006-10-10]

flag|Chechnya — President Alu Alkhanov, in his interview with Itar-Tass, expressed his revulsion over Politkovskaya's murder::

stating that those responsible should receive "the most severe punishment"." He noted that while his views on what has occurred in Chechnya are very different from those of Politkovskaya, he shared her view on the destiny of the Chechen people. He also expressed his condolences to her colleagues. [ru icon [ "Radio-station Echo of Moscow"] , 8 October 2006]

::Chechen Premier Minister Ramzan Kadyrov denied rumors on the so-called "Chechen trace" in case of the murder of Politkovskaya. :

"To speculate on this bloody crime without any reasons and serious proofs means to argue at the level of rumors and gossips; it does not adorn either the press or politicians," Kadyrov stressed. Also, he said that to attempt the life of a journalist means to try to prevent freedom of speech. "Despite not always objective character of the journalist's materials about Chechnya, I regret very much the events happened in such way"," the premier said.cite web|url=|publisher=Regnum|title=Chechen premier denies “Chechen trace” in case of Politkovskaya’s murder|accessdate=2006-10-10|date=2006-10-10]

EUR — The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs [] gave the following statement,cite web|url=|publisher=Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland|title=EU Presidency Statement on the killing of Anna Politkovskaya|date=2006-10-08|accessdate=2006-10-08] as Finland held the Presidency of the EU Council at that time::

"The Presidency of the European Union has learned with deep regret about the killing in Moscow of Anna Politkovskaya, well-known journalist and defender of freedom of expression in Russia. The Presidency calls for a thorough investigation of this heinous crime and the bringing of its perpetrators to justice." and "On behalf of the European Union, the Presidency expresses its deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Anna Politkovskaya."

FIN — President Tarja Halonen said she was shocked and horrified at the killing and expressed the hope that Russia would soon find ways of preventing any repetition of such crimes::

"I very much hope that two things can be achieved in Russia through different means. One is respect for different opinions and the other is a strengthening of the rule of law, so that people can have a sense of safety." [...] "Taking a human life, hurting someone, is always a shocking matter. And when this apparently also involves the violation of freedom of expression it makes the crime that much more appalling." cite web|url=|publisher=Helsingin Sanomat|title=Halonen hopes journalist murder will be solved before upcoming Putin visit|accessdate=2006-10-10|date=2006-10-10]

::The Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Erkki Tuomioja, stated: :

"I'm deeply shocked about this [murder] , I knew her and I was familiar with her work. I knew she was extremely brave, because for her revelations, outspokenness and honesty she has gained many enemies. This kind of murder will put the credibility of the Russian administration into question. We will now see to what degree the Russian authorities are able and willing to solve the murder and bring to account the offenders, wherever the evidence may lead."cite web|url=|publisher=Helsingin Sanomat|title=Tuomioja ja Hautala järkyttyneitä (Erkki Tuomioja shocked)|language=Finnish|accessdate=2006-10-09|date=2006-10-08]

FRA — French President Jacques Chirac on Tuesday sent a letter to Politkovskaya's two children::

"The hateful murder of your mother" ... "has shocked me just as it has shocked all the French and all those who defend press freedom", Chirac said. "You should understand how important it is to France that everything be done to ensure justice is done and that the murderers of your mother be found and punished."cite web|url=

GEOPresident of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili commented, on October 8, 2006, on Politkovskaya’s death, stating that:

" [she] was one of the biggest friends of Georgia to which she dedicated s series of very good articles in the last years." [ru icon cite web|url=|title =М.Саакашвили: А.Политковская была другом Грузии|] The members of the Parliament of Georgia, who knew Politkovskaya personally, described Politkovskaya as "a conscience of Russian journalism" and blamed "a general human rights situation in Russia" for the tragedy. [cite web|language=Georgian|url=|title= The Death of Anna Politkovskaya – An Opinion in Georgia|]

GER — At a joint press conference with Russian President Putin, Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her shock at the murder of Politkovskaya.:

"The Russian president has promised me that everything possible will be done to solve that murder"," she added.cite web|url=|title=Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel Work Together|language=|accessdate=2006-10-11|date=2006-10-11]

RUS — In a statement in Dresden, Germany that came three days after the murder, President Vladimir Putin promised a "thorough investigation"." [cite web|url=|publisher=RIA Novosti|title=Putin informs Bush on journalist murder case investigation|language=|accessdate=2006-10-09|date=2006-10-09] Furthermore::

"Whoever has committed this crime"," Putin said, "and whatever their guiding motives, we should state that this is a horribly cruel crime. It must not remain unpunished, of course."cite web|url=|publisher=BBC|title=Funeral for shot Russian reporter|language=|accessdate=2006-10-11|date=2006-10-10]

::According to Putin, Politkovskaya's influence on Russian political life was ";"very minor"." [cite web|url=|publisher=A.P.|title=Mourners pay homage to slain journalist|language=|accessdate=2006-10-10|date=2006-10-10] Politkovskaya was a critic of the authorities, Putin noted, and her influence should not be overestimated. "It was minimal," he concluded. "She was known among journalists and in human rights circles and in the West, but I repeat that she had no influence on political life. Her murder causes much more harm than her publications did. Whoever did it will be punished." Two hours later, at the session of the St. Petersburg Dialog, the subject arose again. "Those people who are hiding from Russian justice are willing to sacrifice anyone to create a wave of anti-Russian feeling"," Putin said.cite web|url=|title=Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel Work Together|publisher=Kommersant|language=|accessdate=2006-10-11|date=2006-10-11]

SWE — The Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt, stated::

"I have been deeply saddened and distressed to hear of the killing of Anna Politkovskaya. Her struggle for human rights and freedoms was an important contribution to the work of making a better Russia and a better Europe. I sincerely hope that the Russian authorities will do their utmost to apprehend those responsible and clarify what lies behind this deed." [cite web|url=|title=Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt on the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya|language=English|date=2006-10-07|accessdate=2006-10-09|publisher=Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs]

UKR — Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko stated in a press release::

“"In Ukraine, we will always remember Anna Politkovskaya as an honest and courageous journalist committed to the ideas of justice and the protection of human rights."cite web|url=|publisher=Official web-site of President of Ukraine|title=President mourns shot Russian reporter|language=|accessdate=2006-10-11|date=2006-10-11]

UK — In a joint statement with President of the United States George W. Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair said: :

"We condemn this murder and call for a thorough investigation into this terrible crime." President Bush too urged Moscow "to conduct a vigorous and thorough investigation". [cite web|url=|title= Blair and Bush call for Kremlin inquiry into journalist’s murder
language=|date=2006-10-10|accessdate=2006-10-10|publisher=The Herald

USA — President George W. Bush condemned the murder of Politkovskaya::

"Born in the United States to Soviet diplomats, Anna Politkovskaya cared deeply about her country," President Bush said in a written statement. "Through her efforts to shine a light on human rights abuses and corruption, especially in Chechnya, she challenged her fellow Russians — and, indeed, all of us — to summon the courage and will, as individuals and societies, to struggle against evil and rectify injustices." [cite web|url=|title= Statement on the Murder of Russian Journalist Anna Politkovskaya |language=|date=2006-10-08|accessdate=2006-10-13|publisher=The White House]

::In Washington, the State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, said the United States...:

" shocked and profoundly saddened by the brutal murder of independent Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya" and that it "urges the Russian government to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation in order to find, prosecute and bring to justice all those responsible for this heinous murder." [cite web|url=|publisher=U.S. Department of State|title=Murder of Journalist Anna Politkovskaya|accessdate=2006-10-08]


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