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Rally in memory of Anna Politkovskaya held in Moscow


(GDF/IFEX) - 11 October 2010 - A traditional rally in memory of murdered "Novaya Gazeta" journalist Anna Politkovskaya was held in Moscow's Chistoprudny Boulevard on 7 October.

The rally opened at 4:03 p.m., the moment Politkovskaya was killed in her own apartment block four years before. It was conducted by "Novaya Gazeta" deputy editor-in-chief Oleg Khlebnikov, who suggested re-naming Lesnaya Street, where Politkovskaya lived, in her honor. "Streets have been named after Anna Politkovskaya in many European capitals," Khlebnikov said.

"Next year will mark five years since she was killed. We have every legal opportunity to have a street named in her honor and a monument to her erected, not only at the cemetery. To make that happen, we need public support. We believe we should start gathering signatures to help this idea come true one year from now."

Over the four years since Politkovskaya's murder, the investigators have failed to answer all the major questions. Those who ordered the crime remain unidentified, and the actual killer is still going unpunished. That is why rally participants (about 500 people) not only paid tribute to the brilliant journalist but also urged law enforcement officials to do whatever may be necessary to see through the investigation of Politkovskaya's case to its logical end. Speakers also recalled other unsolved crimes - the killings of Natalia Estemirova, Igor Domnikov, Dmitry Kholodov and Stas Markelov, the "mysterious" death of Yuri Shchekochikhin, the attempt on Mikhail Beketov's life, etc.

Oleg Orlov, head of Memorial, made the point that a journalist's killing is an act of intimidation, i.e., a terrorist act.

"It is our common fault that we are unable to demand that the authorities put an end to arbitrariness," Sergey Kovalyov, president of the Human Rights Institute, said.

The list of speakers included Dmitry Muratov, "Novaya Gazeta" editor-in-chief; Glasnost Defense Foundation president Alexei Simonov; prominent actors Alexander Filippenko and Liya Akhedzhakova; Lev Ponomaryov, leader of the movement For Human Rights; writers Genrikh Borovik and Marietta Chudakova; human rights activist Valery Borshchov; singer Natella Boltnyanskaya, who dedicated a song to A. Politkovskaya; and Solidarnost movement leaders Boris Nemtsov and Garry Kasparov. In conclusion, the rally participants heard a recorded address by Politkovskaya's mother, Raisa, who thanked everyone for their "deep love and remembrance" of her daughter.

It seems the authorities, too, were prepared for the anniversary of Politkovskaya's assassination - they announced the advancement of new murder charges against S. Khadzhikurbanov, a former major of Moscow's special police against organized crime unit (UBOP). Investigative committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said the investigators had identified new suspects in the Politkovskaya case, and appealed to a number of European countries for legal assistance. Besides, at a meeting with delegates of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Investigative Committee under the Office of the RF Prosecutor General, acknowledged that the prosecutors had made a "hasty" decision previously to submit the case to court, which had resulted in the jurors' acquittal of two defendants.

Bastrykin also said he is planning to visit one of the European countries where one of Politkovskaya's suspected killers may be hiding now, to try to persuade that country's government to extradite the suspect to Russia.

Hopefully, he will succeed in doing that, although life shows promises of this kind should be accepted with skepticism.

A meaningful detail: the 7 October rally was, as usual, watched by numerous policemen who had been brought in on several buses. But, in contrast to previous years, the police officers were listening to the speakers attentively, instead of zealously "safeguarding law and order".

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