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Still No Justice for Anna Politkovskaya

Vladimir Putin marked his ascendancy by talking about the dictatorship of law through his vertical of power.  Dmitry Medvedev was defaulted into office on anti-corruption pledges and a mission to rid Russia of its legal nihilism.  Yet on trials which matter the most, such as the hunt for the killers of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, the system is most definitely not moving forward, but distinctly and rapidly backward – in other words, a complete joke, a mockery of promises, a performance of cruel ineptitude.

Russia’s leadership is fond of saying that the nation’s strength as a great power is being restored.  It’s about time they proved it by example, by pushing through against whatever resistance is preventing them from delivering justice to Politkovskaya’s family and dozens of other terribly botched trials.  A truly strong Russia should also have nothing to fear from a strong and independent judicial system.  Unfortunately that does not appear to be the case under the current leadership.

From the Financial Times:

In a surprise move, prosecutors said on Wednesday they also wanted the case returned for further investigation and combined with a criminal case against Rustam Makhmudov, the man accused of shooting Ms Politkovskaya.

A representative for the prosecutors told thecourt that while she believed there had been nothing wrong with theoriginal investigation, it would make sense to combine it with the casebeing built against Mr Makhmudov, who is believed to have fled Russia.

The trial was adjourned until Friday when a decision is expected.

KarinaMoskalenko, lawyer for Ms Politkovskaya’s family, said the prosecutors’support increased the chances the case would be sent back. Withoutfurther evidence, she said, “it is an unsolved crime. There may havebeen some leads in the original case, but a whole year has passed sinceit first went to court. There could be new evidence and this needs tobe looked at in court.”

Dmitry Muratov, editor of Novaya Gazeta,the independent newspaper where Ms Politkovskaya worked chroniclinghuman rights abuses in Chechnya said: “We are counting on a seriouslegal process and not a repeat of what already happened. To enter intoa second trial with the same evidence that was already examined by thecourt is just unacceptable.”