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Five years after Politkovskaya's assassination, impunity still reigns

AP via WAN-IFRA

With the five-year anniversary of the murder of investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya on 7 October, the recent arrest of the alleged gunmen and conspirator bring little hope to numerous IFEX members, including Russian members the Glasnost Defence Foundation (GDF) and the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations (CJES).

"We again hear that the case has almost entirely been solved," GDF said. "We hear that new conspirators gave testimony and will be charged, but these 'new' conspirators were mentioned in the previous trial."

Indeed, alleged gunman Gustam Makhmudov's two brothers were acquitted of murder charges after the last flawed trial in 2009. The other conspirator facing trial, Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, Moscow's former police head of surveillance, was called as a witness in the previous trial.

Makhmudov fled the country with the help of high-up accomplices and was a fugitive for many years before his arrest in May of this year, reports RSF, while Pavlyuchenkov was arrested this August.

IFEX members report that Payvlyuchenkov is alleged to have ordered members of his staff to track Politkovskaya's movements. He's said to have named other individuals involved, and called Lom Ali Gaitukayev, the ringleader of an organised crime group that performed the contract killing.

The individuals who ordered the crime still remain free, however, covered by a "veil of secrecy," as CJES puts it. CJES says it is unconvinced by the theory of the prosecutor - that the killing was perpetrated by exiled oligarch and Putin enemy, Boris Berezovsky, in an attempt to discredit the then-President and now Prime Minister of Russia.

Five years ago, Politkovskaya was gunned down in broad daylight in the stairwell of her apartment building by an individual wearing a baseball cap, who was captured on security cameras.

Politkovskaya authored three books and wrote for the newspaper "Novaya Gazeta". Her in-depth investigations into Russian violence in the North Caucasus, including Chechnya, exposed the human rights violations there for the world to know, says the International Press Institute (IPI). She was critical of both Putin and current president of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov.

In the past decade, 17 journalists have been murdered with impunity in Russia, reports CPJ. On 23 November, IFEX members will be commemorating the inaugural International Day to End Impunity to raise public awareness of how prevalent impunity is in the free expression field, as well as to showcase the important work IFEX members have been doing to fight against it. Find out more at: http://www.daytoendimpunity.org

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