Russia authorities arrest suspect in 2006 shooting of journalist Anna Politkovskaya

[JURIST] Russia's Federal Security Service on Tuesday arrested the suspected shooter in the widely publicized 2006 murder [JURIST report] of famed journalist Anna Politkovskaya [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive]. Rustam Makhmudov was arrested [CNN report] at his parents' home in Chechnya almost five years after the killing as two of his brothers and a former police officer await trial for the murder in Moscow. A district court acquitted those three men in February 2009 due to a lack of prosecutorial evidence, but the Russian Supreme Court vacated the acquittal and ordered a reinvestigation of the case [JURIST reports]. Makhmudov will also be taken to Moscow as part of the investigation. A human rights activist and fierce critic of the Kremlin, Anna Politkovskaya was shot dead in an elevator of her apartment building in Moscow as she was returning home on an October afternoon. Politkovskaya investigated human rights abuses in Chechnya and high-level corruption across Russia, and her death raised concerns about the safety of journalists and other critics of the government. At the time she was working for the low-circulation independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta where she was writing reports on Chechnya. Her death was widely believed to be a contract killing.

Since 1992, at least 32 journalists have been murdered in Russia—11 since 2005, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists [advocacy website]. Last month, during a speech [text] at a legal forum in St. Petersburg, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev [official profile; JURIST news archive] expressed the need for Russia to improve its legal system and make a better commitment to the rule of law [JURIST report]. In December 2008, Medvedev's first year in office, he proposed that Russian courts become more transparent in order to restore faith in the justice system and prevent people from turning to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website], for which Russia is a source of more applications than any other country. Earlier, in June 2008, Medvedev said he was committed to improving Russia's human rights record and enforcing the rule of law, reiterating pledges he made at his May inauguration [JURIST reports]. Medvedev, himself a lawyer by training, promised top legal officials he would tackle corruption and intimidation in the Russian judicial system [JURIST report], calling for reforms to better train and support judges.

 

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