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SUSPECTS IN POLITKOVSKAYA MURDER ARRESTED; "MORE ACTION NEEDED"

Ten people, including government officials, have been arrested in connection with Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya's murder, report the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations (CJES), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF). But the press groups say there is a long way to go before "justice will be delivered."

Prosecutor-general Yuri Chaika announced on 27 August that Politkovskaya's murder was carried out by a group led by an ethnic Chechen that included former and current interior ministry and federal security service (FSB) officials. He later added that he believed her killing was masterminded from abroad by anti-Kremlin forces trying to destabilise Russia.

Some IFEX members have expressed scepticism that prosecutors were any closer to convicting Politkovskaya's killers.

"The murders of journalists in the past 14 years have been so poorly investigated that it's hard to have any faith in this," Oleg Panfilov, head of CJES, told Al Jazeera. "I suspect it's connected with the fact that the one-year anniversary of (her) death is coming up. People will ask 'Where are the killers?', and this way they can say that the case is closed and suspects have been detained."

The press freedom groups want Russian authorities to publicly disclose details of the probe, such as evidence of the suspects' involvement, their identities and motives, and the role of the supposed masterminds.

Politkovskaya, who wrote extensively about human rights abuses by the Russian military in Chechnya for the investigative newspaper "Novaya Gazeta", was gunned down outside her central Moscow apartment building in October 2006. Her murder marked the 13th contract-style killing of a journalist in Russia since President Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000, according to CPJ. She told the BBC shortly before her death that President Putin had deliberated provoked terrorist acts, including the hostage-taking in a Moscow theatre in 2002.

Politkovskaya's widely condemned murder brought international attention to the dangers Russian journalists face and led to accusations that the Kremlin was failing to protect freedom of speech. More than 80 journalists in Russia have been murdered because of their work since 1993, according to IFJ.

Visit these links:
- CJES: http://www.cjes.ru/index-e.php
- CJES on Al Jazeera: http://tinyurl.com/3cmntt
- CPJ: http://tinyurl.com/2mlclx
- IFJ: http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?Index=5251&Language=EN
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=23415
- "Novaya Gazeta" (now offered in English): http://en.novayagazeta.ru/
(28 August 2007)

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