20 Feb 2009

Chechen brothers cleared of murdering Kremlin critic

A court in Moscow has acquitted four men accused of involvement in the murder of the investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006, in a verdict that was greeted with dismay by human rights activists.

We demand and need the real murderer, and we will achieve this," said Karina Moskalenko, a lawyer for Politkovskaya's family, outside the courtroom. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said it respected the jury's decision to acquit the defendants based on the evidence state prosecutors presented, "but we are disheartened by the continued impunity in this momentous case. No prosecution will be complete until the triggerman and mastermind are in the dock."

The Novaya Gazeta journalist was noted for her criticism of the Kremlin and her illumination of human rights abuses in Russia's restive region of Chechnya. Rights groups suspect that the murder may have been ordered by figures within Russia's security services, or by Chechnya's pro-Moscow president Ramzan Kadyrov. But the Kremlin has suggested that the murder was part of a plot to discredit Russia, financed from abroad.

The Independent