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New trial starts over murder of journalist Politkovskaya

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-11-16

A new trial over the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya is due to begin on Wednesday. But her friends and relatives say the hearings are fundamentally flawed and a new investigation is needed.

AFP - Russia's failure to convict those behind the murder of journalists creates a climate of impunity that increases the peril of such work, the editor of slain reporter Anna Politkovskaya said Tuesday.
  
"This atmosphere of impunity is responsible for the number of crimes against journalist," Dmitry Muratov, the editor-and-chief of Novaya Gazeta, the paper for which Politkovskaya worked, told journalists in Moscow.
  
His comments came a day before the start of a new trial over the murder of the investigative reporter.
  
But Politkovskaya's friends and relatives say the hearings -- ordered after the supreme court annulled a February acquittal of the suspects accused in her 2006 murder -- are fundamentally flawed and a new investigation is needed.
  
The men on trial are all accused of being accessories to the murder, but the authorities have still failed to find the triggerman, let alone identify the mastermind of the killing.
  
"The situation is paradoxical in Russia: the assassins of journalists feel socially closer to power than journalists themselves," Muratov said.
  
The murders may even feel they are acting in the state's interest, he said, pointing to the psychology of the man jailed for the 2002 killing of another Novaya Gazeta journalist Sergei Zolovkin.
  
The convicted assassin wrote then-president Vladimir Putin for a pardon arguing he had served Russia's interest by eliminating a traitor, he said.
  
Since 1993 at least 40 journalists have been murdered in Russia in apparent contract-style shootings, according to the Center for Journalist in Extreme Situations in Moscow.
  
But no suspect has been named for ordering any of these crimes, it added.
  
The Novaya Gazeta newspaper alone has seen four of its journalists murdered since 2001.
  
Politkovskaya wrote dozens of articles for Novaya Gazeta and a book called "Putin's Russia," accusing Putin of strangling democracy and detailing horrific abuses during the Kremlin's war in Chechnya.
  
She was gunned down in the stairwell of her apartment building on on October 7, 2006.
  
Her unsolved murder was once more brought into sharp focus last month with the abduction and killing of her close colleague Natalya Estemirova, a prominent rights activist in Chechnya.

Date created : 2009-08-05

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