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France's Kouchner Pays Homage to Russian Journalist

France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has paid homage to murdered Russian journalist and outspoken Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya.

Kouchner praised Politkovskaya in an interview with her newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, published Thursday. The interview was conducted during the foreign minister's visit to Moscow earlier this week.

Kouchner called Politkovskaya a "free press hero and an example for freedom and openness." He said Politkovskaya always tried to fight for ideals also supported in France.

Earlier this week, Politkovskaya posthumously received the 2007 Democracy Award presented by the U.S.-based National Endowment for Democracy. She was chosen for efforts to preserve press freedom and independent media in Russia.

A gunman shot and killed Politkovskaya in her apartment building last October.

Russia's Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika has said her murder was organized by a Chechen criminal group in Moscow that specialized in contract killings.

Politkovskaya was well known for her reporting on human rights abuses by Russian troops and paramilitary groups in Chechnya. She was preparing a report highly critical of Russia's military presence in Chechnya at the time of her death.

Russian government forces have been fighting separatists in Chechnya for more than a decade.

Some information for this report provided by AFP.