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Chasing Down Anna Politkovskaya’s Killer

politkov070108.jpgThere seems to be no end to the Russian state’s subterfuge in the Anna Politkovskaya murder investigation, as today officials indicated that they believe that the killer has fled to hide in Western Europe (rumors say Belgium). With what has become a signature trademark of vague, suggestive obfuscation, Alexander Bastrykin of the procuracy told the press “We even know which country he is in,” yet declined to identify this country. If Russia is serious about solving the Politkovskaya murder, why can’t we get any straight answers, transparency, or cooperation with international legal and police authorities? This isn’t the first time the procuracy has played coy with the investigation. Remember back when they held a dramatic news conference to announce that they had discovered the identity of the killers … but only then refused to name him? Or when Yuri Chaika did finally name names, but only to discover that one of his suspects was actually in prison during the time of the crime, leading to the release of several of the accused. All of these developments of course come after Chaika declared (citing no evidence or testimony) that the Politkovskaya murder was ordered from abroad by the opposition with the goal of destabilizing Russia and discrediting Vladimir Putin. Right. Chaika did not however respond to questions regarding the role of the FSB officer who provided the address of the journalist to the killers. If the state continues to insist that this is not a political case, it might help to stop trying to pitch it as such. I am fully aware of how tiresome and disrespectful it has become for this horrible crime to be used as a political football by all sides, which distracts from the basic fact that we are watching a terrible impunity unfold before our eyes – no matter whose political interests it serves. Russia has a very serious rule of law problem, and after years of Kremlin interference in judicial affairs, it seems that investigators and prosecutors have become notably impaired in their ability to serve real justice for authentic crimes – rather than simply carry out the orders of certain siloviki.