- Nov 22, 2003
only a nitwit would question:
The Times October 09, 2006
Kremlin accused over reporter death
From Tony Halpin in Moscow
She was a fearless critic of President Putin and chronicler of atrocities in Russias long war with its breakaway republic of Chechnya. One of those concerns may have cost Anna Politkovskaya her life.
The most famous investigative journalist in Russia was shot dead by an assassin on Saturday, Mr Putins 54th birthday, as she stepped from the lift of her Moscow apartment building to collect shopping from her car. The murder bore the hallmarks of a contract killing.
Ms Politkovskaya, 48, was said to have been preparing an article about torture in Chechnya for todays edition of her newspaper, Novaya Gazeta. Dmitri Moratov, the Editor-in-Chief, said: She had important photographs. We have some of her notes and of course we will partly publish this material. Mikhail Gorbachev, today a Novaya Gazeta shareholder, described the killing as a blow to the entire independent press.
The Kremlin remained silent for a full 24 hours after Ms Politkovskayas death.
Hundreds of people gathered in Pushkin Square to light candles in her memory, many accusing the authorities of complicity. One poster read: The Kremlin has killed freedom of speech.
Valeri Borshchev, of the liberal Yabloko party, said: This is a political killing, and the authorities are mixed up in this.
A spokeswoman for Yuri Chaika, the Prosecutor-General, said that he had taken charge of the inquiry, which was focused chiefly on Ms Politkovskayas professional activity.
Much of the speculation is focused on Ramzan Kadyrov, the Prime Minister of Chechnya. Mr Kadyrov became 30 on Thursday, making him eligible to become the President of the republic. That day, Ms Politkovskaya told the US-run Radio Liberty that she intended to appear as a witness in a torture and kidnap case that would implicate him. It was her dream to see him in the dock, she said.
Mr Kadyrov, a protégé of Mr Putin, controls a private militia. He denies involvement in torture, but Ms Politkovskaya told her interviewer that he was a Stalin of our times.
Mr Kadyrov expressed regret at the news of her death even though her articles on Chechnya did not always have an objective character, the Itar-Tass agency reported.
Alexei Malashenko, of the Carnegie Centre in Moscow, told The Times that the murder could have been ordered by somebody determined to block Mr Kadyrovs rise. He did not rule out involvement by Russian security services.
Mr Putin had in the past supported his candidacy but had grown lukewarm towards him, Mr Malashenko said. I dont believe this was intended as a present for Ramzan Kadyrovs birthday because the assassination creates another obstacle for him to become President. Now everybody will point the finger at him, he said. It will allow Putin to say to Kadyrov that there are all these rumours and he has to step back. Anna Politkovskaya wrote about Chechnya all the time and I did not see any great threat.
According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, Ms Politkovskaya is the twelfth journalist to die in a contract-style killing since Mr Putin came to power.
History of conflict
# Chechnya declared independence in 1991, when Soviet Union collapsed. In 1994 President Yeltsin sent troops to Chechnya to crush independence movement
# More than 100,000 believed to have died
# A ceasefire in 1996 gave Chechnya limited autonomy
# Vladimir Putin sent troops back in 1999. The human rights group Memorial says that about 5,000 people have gone missing in Chechnya since then