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Europe Outraged Over Slain Russian Journalist's Murder


Shock and dismay continue to resonate in Europe and elsewhere at the execution-style killing of prominent Russian investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya. A demonstration was held in the French capital Monday night in front of the Russian embassy.

Politicians, reporters and human rights activists in Europe continue to express their sorrow and outrage at the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, who was found with a bullet in her head at her Moscow apartment building Saturday night.

Finland, which holds the rotating European Union presidency, has called Politkovskaya death a "heinous crime." Europe's human rights body, the Council of Europe, also denounced the death of the 48-year-old reporter, who was among the few Russian journalists who continued to expose human rights abuses in Chechnya. Similar criticism has been aired by officials in Sweden, Spain, Britain and France, and many have pressed the Russian government to investigate the killing.

The non-governmental group, Reporters Without Borders, held a demonstration Monday night, in front of the Russian embassy in Paris. Elsa Vidal, who heads the organization's Europe department, said the rally was meant to send a message to Russian authorities that press freedom was critical.

"First we are shocked and outraged and we would like Russia to consider press freedom as a very important topic," said Elsa Vidal. "Since the presidency of Vladimir Putin we have been witnessing a worsening situation."

According to Reporters Without Borders, 21 journalists have been killed in Russia for their reporting since 2000, and free speech has been muzzled.

Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged Monday that authorities would do all they can to track down Politkovskayas killers. But some critics, like Reporters Without Borders, express doubt about Mr. Putin's commitment to free press and the government's determination to serve justice.

German politicians have called on Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss human rights in Russia with Mr. Putin when the two leaders meet Tuesday in Dresden, Germany.

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