Ten years ago today, Anna Politkovskaya, one of Russia's leading investigative journalists, was shot to death in the elevator of her apartment building in Moscow. Her murder and the state's inability—or reluctance—to prosecute those responsible have become symbolic of the the danger of working as a journalist in Russia. Despite the conviction of five men on murder charges in 2014, it remains unclear to this day who ordered Politkovskaya's killing.
Politkovskaya is remembered for her fearless investigations of human rights violations—most famously in the North Caucasus, where she covered the Second Chechen War. On Friday, Novaya Gazeta, Politkovskaya's newspaper, invited people to gather at the entrance to its office building, where a plaque commemorates her life and work. Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe captured the scene earlier today.
Novaya Gazeta also published a video titled “The Ringleader is Still Missing,” a powerful indictment of the authorities’ failure to find—or, perhaps, to disclose—who ordered Politkovskaya's murder. RuNet Echo translated the placards that the members of Novaya Gazeta's staff are holding up in the video below.
Anna Politkovskaya, killed on October 7, 2006, in the entryway of her apartment. In the elevator. Five shots. A contract killing, for $150,000. By whom? The ringleader is still missing. August, 2007: the suspected organizers and killers in Politkovskaya’s murder are apprehended, 11 people in all. The ringleader is still missing. August 29, 2007, General Prosecutor Yury Chaika announces that Politkovskaya’s murder has been solved. The ringleader is still missing.
September 21, 2009: the the former head of a district in Chechnya, Shamil Buraev is accused. He doesn't show up in court. The ringleader is still missing. November 25, 2009: the first murder trial begins. The ringleader is still missing. February 19, 2009: the jury acquits all of the suspects. The ringleader is still missing. June 26, 2009: The Supreme Court overturns the verdict. The case is returned for a retrial.
May 31, 2011: Rustam Maxmudov is arrested. The ringleader is still missing. August 22, 2011: a witness in the case, Police Lieutenant Colonel Pavliuchenkov is arrested as the organizer of the murder. He confesses. But he doesn’t say who ordered the killing. According to the terms of his plea bargain, Pavliuchenkov is supposed to say who did. He doesn’t. Anna’s children demand that the plea bargain be voided and he be judged without leniency. The court does refuses their demands. The ringleader is still missing.
December 14, 2012: Dmitry Pavliuchenkov is sentenced to 11 years in a penal colony for killing Anna Politkovskaya. The ringleader is still missing.
June 3, 2013: a second trial begins. The ringleader is still missing.
May 20, 2014: the jury finds all the accused guilty in the killing of Anna Politkovskaya. The ringleader is still missing. The organizer, accomplices, and the killer get prison sentences. The ringleader is still missing. The ringleader's case is made into a separate proceeding, but no investigation is opened. Garabyan, the investigator, retires. The new investigator, Stepanov, does nothing. The ringleader is still missing. The investigation has practically been suspended. The ringleader still missing. Politkovskaya’s children appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, citing the investigators’ inaction. The Investigative Committee announces that Politkovskaya’s case has been solved. But the ringleader is still missing.
About ten years have passed since the day of Politkovskaya’s murder. The case hasn't been solved. The ringleader is still missing. [Politkovskaya’s Son]: I demand that the ringleader in my mother’s murder be found.
Arkady Babchenko, a war correspondent and ex-soldier who served in the First Chechen War, tweeted a picture of Politkovskaya in Grozny, Chechnya, in 2005.
Анна Политковская, Станислав Маркелов, Наталья Эстемирова.
Грозный, 2005 год, здание суда.
Фото Алесандра Черкасова pic.twitter.com/ELNQGLNTxK
— Старшина Запаса (@StarshinaZapasa) October 7, 2016
Anna Politkovskaya, Stanislav Larkelov, Natalya Estemirova, Grozny, 2005, courthouse. All killed. Photo by Aleksander Cherkasov.
Many shared their favorite memories of Politkovskaya, often interviews highlighting her dogged pursuit of the truth—here calling attention to the special services’ role in the 2002 terrorist attack on Dubrovka theater, which resulted in a hostage crisis.
— недруги за бугром (@Lndcalling) October 7, 2016
I advise everyone to watch this. Anna Politkovskaya tells Vladimir Soloviev (Russian journalist) about the implication of special services in the terrorist attack on Dubrovka.
News website and TV station Novoe Vremya (a joint project of RFE/RL and Voice of America) remembered Politkovskaya's last interview.
В своем последнем интервью Анна Политковская говорила о Кадырове: через 2 дня ее застрелили в подъезде дома в Москве pic.twitter.com/47Gvp3QNRc
— Настоящее Время (@CurrentTimeTv) October 7, 2016
In her last interview, Anna Politkovskaya spoke about Kadyrov: two days later she was shot at her home in Moscow.
Others called attention to the fact that Politkovskaya was killed on Putin's birthday—a coincidence that resonates because of allegations of official involvement in her murder and coverup.
10 лет назад, 7 октября была убита Анна Политковская. Заказчик до сих пор не назван. Путин в этот день празднует свой день рождения pic.twitter.com/1t17gdgDyQ
— Виталий С. – фх100 (@vits2014) October 6, 2016
Ten years ago, on October 7, Anna Politkovskaya was killed. The ringleader is still missing. Putin celebrates his birthday on this date.