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A Lack of Accountability

From the editorial page of the Washington Post:

The larger story here is of serial murders of Mr. Putin’s opponents, at home and abroad. Ms. Baburova, 25, is at least the 15th journalist to be slain since Mr. Putin took power. No one has been held accountable in any of the cases — including that of Anna Politkovskaya, a former client of Mr. Markelov who also was murdered execution-style in broad daylight, on Mr. Putin’s birthday in 2006. In London, dissident former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned; so was Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, who survived. Karina Moskalenko, another opposition lawyer who has represented Ms. Politkovkaya’s family, fell ill from mercury poisoning in Strasbourg, France, in October, just before a hearing in the case. Last week in Vienna, a Chechen dissident who had received political asylum was murdered on the street — shot twice in the head.

It is possible that Mr. Putin and his security services had nothing to do with any of these murders. But it is a fact that the Russian leader has not pressed for justice; on the contrary, he has protected the suspects identified by Scotland Yard in the Litvinenko case. What is indisputable is that Russians live in a political climate in which those who criticize Mr. Putin or the human rights violations of his government can be murdered with impunity. Although some of the killings have occurred in their cities, Western governments have made no attempt to hold Mr. Putin or the Russian government accountable. Their silence helps keep brazen murder a part of Russia’s politics.