Another chapter in the murder of Anna Politkovskaya

June 26, 2009
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After being arrested in October of 2006 for the murder of acclaimed Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, three men—two Chechen brothers and a former police investigator—were found not guilty by a jury on charges that they provided logistical support for her killing. But today’s New York Times reports that Russia’s Supreme Court has now overturned their acquittals, as well as the acquittal of “a fourth defendant, a former colonel in the F.S.B., the successor to the K.G.B., who faced lesser charges,” on the grounds that “there had been procedural violations by the judges and the defense during the first trial.” According to the NYT:

Ms. Politkovskaya’s colleagues said they were not surprised by the court’s decision but said they feared that the new trial would be a distraction from their central concern: finding the gunman and the mastermind in the crime.… Investigators say they believe that Rustam Makhmudov, a brother of the two Chechen defendants, carried out the murder, shooting Ms. Politkovskaya, 48, with a Makarov 9-millimeter pistol on Oct. 7, 2006, in the hallway of her apartment building as she returned home.
He is thought to be in hiding abroad. The person or people who ordered the killing have not been found.

But, the article quotes Sergei Sokolov, deputy editor of the Novya Gazeta where Ms. Politkovskaya worked, saying that whoever ordered the killing, “it is obvious that the one who ordered it is a very prominent person.” It has been widely speculated that the motive for Politkovskaya’s murder was her outspoken criticism of the Russia’s handling of its bloody conflict with Chechnya that began with the movement for Chechen independence in 1991 and continues to the present day. Her second book on the subject, A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya was published by the press in 2003. In the book Politkovskaya recounts the horrors of living in the midst of the war, examines how the war has affected Russian society, and takes a hard look at how people on both sides are profiting from it. A powerful account of what is acknowledged as one of the most dangerous and least understood conflicts on the planet, Politkovskaya’s book offers one of the world’s only window’s into this region and its troubles.
For more on the Politkovskaya’s book read this excerpt. Also see our past posts on Politkovskaya’s murder and the ensuing trial, or follow the NYT‘s coverage here.

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