Another arrest – but will we ever know who wanted Anna Politkovskaya dead?

Mastermind behind the murder of campaigning journalist remains at large, says rights group

Moscow

Russia announced yesterday that a former police officer had been charged with organising the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, the crusading journalist who was shot dead outside her Moscow flat in 2006.

The Investigative Committee said Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, a lieutenant colonel in the police at the time of the murder, has been charged with planning the killing. He is alleged to have tracked the journalist's movements using the cover of police work, in order to help the killers.

There has already been one trial over the murder, with the suspects acquitted of helping to organise the hit, and friends and colleagues of Ms Politkovskaya expressed scepticism that the latest charges were a real breakthrough. "Even if Mr Pavlyuchenkov did organise the killing, it's very unlikely he was the one who ordered it," said Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch in Moscow. "We need to see not only the killers, or the technical organisers, but also the mastermind brought to justice."

The killing of Ms Politkovskaya, who was well known for her searing reports from Chechnya, drew a wave of condemnation from across the globe, but nearly six years later nobody has been brought to justice for her murder. She worked for Novaya Gazeta, part-owned by The Independent's financial backer, Alexander Lebedev, and the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev. The paper specialises in investigative reporting, and several of its journalists have been assassinated.

According to the Investigative Committee, Pavlyuchenkov was engaged by a Chechen criminal authority, who in turn had been hired by someone who was angry about the nature of Ms Politkovskaya's reporting from Chechnya. The report does not name this person.

Many observers have pointed the finger of suspicion at Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed ruler of Chechnya. Many of Ms Politkovskaya's investigations uncovered allegations of torture and abuse at the hands of militias loyal to Mr Kadyrov. The Chechen leader, however, has always vehemently denied any suggestion of involvement in the crime.

Shortly after Ms Politkovskaya's death, President Vladimir Putin, in an attempt to show that the state had no motive to carry out the murder, dismissed her work as "extremely insignificant" and said Russia's image was harmed more by her murder than by her work. As such, Russian officials have hinted that Boris Berezovsky, a London-based exile and a critic of Mr Putin, might have ordered the murder in an elaborate plot aimed at making the Kremlin look bad. Mr Berezovsky denies any links to the case.

Ms Politkovskaya's murder is the highest profile of a number of assassinations of journalists and activists in recent years, almost all of which have gone unsolved. Particularly vulnerable are investigative journalists working in Russia's volatile North Caucasus region, as Ms Politkovskaya was.

Sunday marked the three-year anniversary of another high-profile murder, that of the human rights activist Natalia Estemirova, who lived in Grozny and often worked on stories with Ms Politkovskaya. Ms Estemirova was kidnapped as she left her house for work, and was found dead a few hours later in neighbouring Ingushetia.

Ms Lokshina of Human Rights Watch said: "It has been nearly six years since the murder of Politkovskaya, and in all that time our question has remained the same: who ordered it? Since then there have been other killings too. The work these people were doing and the failure to catch the perpetrators points to the involvement or at least the acquiescence of state officials."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum