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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More