Anna Politkovskaya, a famous journalist and a columnist for Novaya Gazeta was murdered this Saturday in Moscow. She is known first of all for her materials about Chechnya and Northern Caucasus and also for her harsh opposition to the current regime in Russia. The main murder theory is “journalistic.” Human rights activist Liudmila Alekseeva explained, “She told the truth, and that is why she was killed.” State Duma deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov said, “She investigated Beslan, Nord-Ost and national corruption – that’s where the motives should be sought.”
As reported previously Politkovskaya received many threats but there are speculations about their sources. For example, the murder could have been committed by the Chechens offended by one of journalist’s publications in Novaya Gazeta.
According to another more credible theory she could have been murdered by the rightwing extremists who have recently become a lot more active. Such people on multiple occasions accused Politkovskaya of betraying the Russian people.
The radical opposition basically blames the Kremlin for the tragedy since it initiated a campaign against the liberals and the human rights activists accusing them of cooperating with the West to Russia’s disadvantage. However even the harshest opposition does not assume the government’s direct involvement in the crime.
At the same time many experts siding with the Kremlin speculate that the incident served as a provocation aimed at discrediting the current administration.
The murder of Politkovskaya has dealt a serious blow to the government’s position in the public arena. This is the second major assassination in the recent months: not long ago the vice-president of Tsentrobank Andrey Kozlov was also shot dead. These cases produce an unstable atmosphere because even in the 1990’s – the notorious years of criminal chaos – murders of such scale were still rare.
Politkovskaya’s assassination evoked a stormy emotional reaction along the liberal part of the political specter. Yet the reaction may turn out even further reaching abroad. In the US her murder is equated with that of Paul Khlebnikov – a case that is still unsolved. Americans were deeply concerned by the fact that the criminals who have murdered their fellow citizen remained free. So now those who believe that Russia is a country where independent journalists face persecution have additional grounds for their beliefs.
In addition this murder happened at the time when Russia is intensely criticized for its anti-Georgian campaign and for its limiting the activity of non-commercial organizations such as the Salvation Army. Now the accusations against Russian authorities of anti-democratic tendencies could further increase.
The death of Anna Politkovskaya produced a situation that forces the Russian government into defensive position under conditions of harsh criticism from the outside and ineffective strategy against the right wing radicals from within. The only way to deal with the situation is to find the murders and to present undeniable evidence of their guilt.
Translated by Natalia Vysotskaya