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Russia: Politkovskaya conviction welcomed, but prosecutors urged to 'keep digging'

Today’s conviction of the killer of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya is welcome progress, Amnesty International said today, but the organisation urged Russian prosecutors “to keep digging” until those who masterminded the killing are brought to justice.

A journalist and human rights defender known for her critical reports from Chechnya, Ms Politkovskaya was gunned down in the lift of her building on 7 October 2006.  

Earlier today former police officer Dmitry Pavliutchenkov was found guilty and sentenced today to 11 years in a high-security penal colony. The trial of five other accomplices who worked with Pavliutchenkov in the killing is expected to begin in March next year.  Despite a special plea bargain to give evidence against those who ultimately ordered the killing, Pavliutchenkov only named two opposition exile figures in what Politkovskaya’s family have called “politically-motivated” testimony. The family’s lawyers plan to appeal, calling for Pavliutchenkov to be given a longer sentence.

Meanwhile, Amnesty is calling for better protection of journalists and human rights defenders in Russia, and an end to restrictions on freedom of expression. Since Politkovskaya’s death, journalists and human rights defenders have continued to face attacks and threats, and have been killed with impunity

In addition, recent restrictive initiatives in Russia have included the re-criminalisation of libel and the introduction of a bill by a government MP which would limit coverage of “negative information” in the media. Amnesty believes this could amount to censorship and undue restriction on the right to access to information.

Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Director John Dalhuisen said:

“While we welcome today’s verdict and the long-awaited prosecutions of Anna Politskovskaya’s killers, this case can never truly be closed until those who ordered her murder are named and brought to justice.

“We are urging prosecutors to keep digging up the truth, no matter how politically inconvenient.

“The Russian government’s toxic habit of silencing those with dissenting or critical views has to stop.”

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