Political Murders Continue to Go Unpunished

From the Washington Post’s coverage of the acquittal of defendants in the Anna Politkovskaya trial:

The verdict came one month after a well-known human rights lawyer, Stanislav Markelov, and a student journalist, Anastasia Baburova, were gunned down together in central Moscow. Colleagues and family members said the acquittal sent a signal that such political violence will continue to go unpunished in Russia.

“I thought after studying the case records, and I still believe, that all four people who were released by the jury today were involved in my mother’s murder in one way or another,” Ilya Politkovsky said.

“I am not disappointed in the verdict,” he added. “But I amdisappointed by the prosecution and the people who produced it, becausethis verdict is the result.”

Sergei Sokolov, deputy editor of Novaya Gazeta, the independentnewspaper where Politkovskaya and Baburova worked, said that more than100 journalists in Russia have been victims of contract killings sincethe early 1990s and that not one of the cases is considered solved.

He said investigators assigned to Politkovskaya’s shooting wereobstructed by intelligence and police officials who refused to turnover key evidence and leaked information that allowed the suspectedgunman to flee the country. The FSB placed both Politkovskaya andRyaguzov under surveillance in the weeks before the killing butwithheld recordings and reports, he said. In addition, investigatorswere never permitted to search Ryaguzov’s office properly or seize hiscomputer.

“There could have been much more evidence in court and many moredefendants in the dock,” Sokolov said. “But when it turned out that lawenforcement and special service officials and their numerous secretagents were dragged into the case, the system put out a giant shield.”