Wednesday, August 29, 2007Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) welcomes the August 27 news that Russian police have detained 10 people on suspicion of the murder of reporter Anna Politkovskaya. Prosecutor-General Yuri Chaika, speaking at a press conference, said that "the killing was masterminded from abroad by anti-Kremlin forces trying to discredit Russia." The inquiry found evidence that Politkovskaya was murdered by a criminal gang led by a Chechen. Officers from the Russian police and members of the intelligence services were also implicated. Authorities have not released the names of the suspects. Yuri Chaika has stated that they will be charged soon and brought to trial. Politkovskaya was shot to death by a gunman on October 7, 2006, as she got into the elevator of her apartment in Moscow. Politkovskaya, 48, was well-known for her reporting on Chechnya for Russia's liberal newspaper, Novaya Gazeta. She was also a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin. The Centre for Journalism in Extreme Situations has stated that they are skeptical about whether authorities are really any closer to solving the murder, and suggested that these very public arrests may have been a political move to satisfy international calls for justice in the case. Colleagues of Anna Politkovskaya believe that she may have been killed in connection to her reporting of abuses by Russian military officers in Chechnya and neighbouring regions. In the past, she had been persecuted, detained and forced into exile. CJFE welcomes the news that progress has been made in the case, and that the investigation has led to the detention of 10 suspects. However, we ask the authorities to ensure that the investigation and subsequent prosecution are fair, independent and transparent. We also urge Russian authorities to release more information about the motive of the crime and to make every effort to find and prosecute the masterminds behind the killing. Furthermore, we urge the Russian government to give its full support to the protection of freedom of speech for all Russian journalists. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is an association of more than 300 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and around the world.
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