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Five years on, writers continue to call for justice for Anna Politkovskaya

(PEN American Center/IFEX) - New York City, October 7, 2011 - On the five-year anniversary of the murder of acclaimed Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, PEN American Center once again appealed to the Russian government for justice, citing an ongoing "climate of impunity for crimes against journalists and writers in Russia." Politkovskaya, who gained international acclaim for her articles and books chronicling human rights abuses in Chechnya, was shot dead in an execution-style killing in the elevator of her apartment building in Moscow on October 7, 2006, and Russian authorities have yet to convict those responsible for her killing.

In a letter signed by PEN American Center President Kwame Anthony Appiah and Freedom to Write Director Larry Siems and sent to Russian authorities, PEN welcomed the reports of advances in the cases against possible perpetrators of Politkovskaya's murder, including the re-arrest of suspected gunman Rustam Makhmudov, who was acquitted of murder charges following a flawed trial on February 19, 2009, and the arrest of Lt. Col. Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, the former head of surveillance at Moscow's Main Internal Affairs Directorate, who was apprehended on August 24, 2011. Pavlyuchenkov is accused of ordering his subordinates to follow Politkovskaya and identify her schedule and commuting routes, and of sharing this information with the other members of the gang that facilitated her murder. He has also reportedly named other individuals involved, including Lom Ali Gaitukayev, whom Pavlyuchenkov named as a ringleader.

"While PEN American Center is encouraged by the recent developments in the investigation into Anna Politkovskaya's murder," the letter said, "we remain concerned that some of the perpetrators of the crime may still be at large, furthering a climate of impunity for crimes against journalists and writers in Russia. We therefore respectfully call on authorities to fully examine Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov's role and the allegations brought against Lom Ali Gaitukayev and to move swiftly to ensure they receive a fair and open trial, and to investigate more thoroughly those who may have ordered and carried out the murder."

Anna Politkovskaya was a special correspondent for the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta and the author of three books, A Dirty War: A Russian Reporter in Chechnya (2001), A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya (2003), and Putin's Russia (2006). She was found dead in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building on October 7, 2006, executed in what was clearly a contract killing, after years of threats and harassment.

Click here to read the full text of the PEN American Center letter
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