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

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid