News / Europe

    Five Jailed for Killing Russia's Politkovskaya, Mastermind Unknown

    Defendants in the murder trial of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya are seen inside a glass-walled cage, with a policeman standing guard in the foreground, during a court hearing in Moscow, June 9, 2014.
    Defendants in the murder trial of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya are seen inside a glass-walled cage, with a policeman standing guard in the foreground, during a court hearing in Moscow, June 9, 2014.
    Reuters
    Five men received long jail terms on Monday for the killing of prominent Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya after a trial that did not reveal who had masterminded the Russian journalist's murder.
     
    Politkovskaya, an investigative reporter who uncovered state corruption and rights abuses, especially in Chechnya, was gunned down in the lobby of her Moscow apartment building at the age of 48 on October 7, 2006, President Vladimir Putin's 54th birthday.
     
    Russian authorities denied any role in the killing, which caused international outrage.
     
    The five men, convicted by a jury last month, exchanged nervous smiles in their glass-fronted courtroom cage before judge Pavel Melyokhin handed down the sentences.
     
    He agreed to the prosecutors' request to order life imprisonment for Rustam Makhmudov, found guilty of pulling the trigger, and his uncle Lom-Ali Gaitukayev, who organized the logistics. The other three each received 12, 14 and 20 years.
    FILE - People lay flowers next to a portrait of slain journalist Anna Politkovskaya near the apartment building where she lived in central Moscow October 7, 2012.FILE - People lay flowers next to a portrait of slain journalist Anna Politkovskaya near the apartment building where she lived in central Moscow October 7, 2012.
    x
    FILE - People lay flowers next to a portrait of slain journalist Anna Politkovskaya near the apartment building where she lived in central Moscow October 7, 2012.
    FILE - People lay flowers next to a portrait of slain journalist Anna Politkovskaya near the apartment building where she lived in central Moscow October 7, 2012.
     

    Politkovskaya was one of nearly two dozen journalists murdered in Russia since 2000, but her case attracted special attention because of the brutality of the contract-style killing and the failure of the authorities - even now, after nearly eight years and several trials - to identify who ordered the assassination.
     
    Kremlin critics and rights campaigners say the murder symbolizes the weakness of the rule of law in Russia.
     
    “I will be satisfied only when the person or people who ordered this will be sentenced,” said Politkovskaya's son Ilya.
     
    Her newspaper, the independent Novaya Gazeta, is still running its own investigation into the killing.
     
    “For as long as the name of the mastermind is not known, there can be no talk of revealing the truth,” said its spokeswoman, Nadezhda Prusenkova.
     
    “Today's sentencing is important, but only a step. They are the lowest level in this criminal chain, which must still be revealed and punished.”
     
    ‘Nobody will risk speaking’
     
    Makhmudov's two brothers, Ibragim and Dzhabrail, were sentenced to 12 and 14 years in a high-security penal colony for helping to shadow Politkovskaya. The fifth defendant in the year-long trial, former police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, was given 20 years for his part in preparing the slaying.
     
    The court ordered the guilty men to pay 5 million roubles ($145,400) in compensation to Ilya and Politkovskaya's other adult child, Vera.
     
    At an earlier trial in 2009, a different jury embarrassed state prosecutors by acquitting three of the five defendants.
     
    Another ex-policeman was separately convicted and sentenced to 11 years in a penal colony, but his trial also failed to reveal the person or people behind the murder.
     
    Putin condemned the murder at the time but infuriated Politkovskaya's supporters by saying her ability to influence Russian politics had been “extremely insignificant” and her killing had caused greater damage to Russia's image than her writing.
     
    The former KGB spy has clamped down on dissent since returning to the Kremlin for his third term in a 2012 election marked by mass protests.
     
    Lev Ponomaryov, a prominent human rights campaigner who worked with Politkovskaya, voiced a widespread belief in Russia that people in the higher echelons of power might have played a role in the killing.
     
    “I am sure the name behind the murder will not be revealed under the current political regime. If the order came from the ruling elite's senior members, nobody will risk speaking because they know for sure that would cost their life,” he said.

    You May Like

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora