The International Federation of Journalists has described the killing in Moscow of Anna Politkovskaya, the Russian reporter who was a fierce critic of Russia’s war in Chechnya, as a “shocking outrage that will stun journalists across the world.”
The IFJ says the killing reflects a state of lawlessness that is threatening to overwhelm Russian journalism. The Federation has called on the government of President Vladimir Putin to act immediately to bring the killers to justice.
Politkovskaya was shot to death on Saturday. According to news reports, her body was found in the elevator in the building where she lived.
“The Russian authorities must carry out an urgent and intensive investigation. We need to know who killed our colleague and who ordered the attack in the first place,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.
Politkovskaya, who worked for the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, established her reputation on the back of controversial reports about human rights abuses by Russian troops in Chechnya where she showed remarkable courage in being able to produce challenging journalism from a lawless region where she had to face threats from Chechen bandits and Russian or Chechen government death squads.
Her reputation and trenchant reporting made here a thorn in the side of the Russian government and when she fell seriously ill with food poisoning in 2004 while on her way to report on the Beslan school siege, many observers believed it was an attempt on her life.
“She was the bravest of the new breed of brave reporters who emerged in the dying days of the Soviet Union,” said White. “She faced down threats from all sides and was an inspiration to journalists both at home and abroad. Her death is a shocking outrage that will stun the world of journalism.”
The IFJ is next year holding its World Congress in Moscow and Anna Politkovskaya was invited to be one of the speakers.
“Her courage and professionalism have made her a heroic figure in journalistic and human rights circles,” said White. “Her death is a tragedy for her family and for everyone who knew her, but it also highlights the desperate and fragile state of democracy in modern Russia.”
Politkovskaya was born in 1958 in New York, where her Soviet Ukrainian parents were diplomats at the United Nations. She was educated at the journalism faculty of Moscow State University.
For more information contact the IFJ at +32 478 25 86 69
The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 100 countries