Journalist's Murder Seen as Indictment of Putin
The murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya is seen by many not just as a political assassination, but as an indictment of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the European governments that have embraced him.
Thousands turned out Tuesday to mourn the slain journalist, known for her investigations of human rights abuses by pro-Moscow forces in Chechnya. Putin, who made his first public comments about her death during a phone call to President Bush on Monday, and his Kremlin associates were conspicuously absent from her funeral.
Alexei Venediktov, editor of Ekho Moskvy Radio in Moscow, criticized Putin's assurances of justice to Bush. "He couldn't force himself to offer his condolences," Venediktov said. "It gave the impression that he was reporting to President Bush that everything would be taken care of. Like a lieutenant reporting to a colonel."
Russian author Viktor Erofeyev blamed Politkovskaya's death on the "the impenetrable fog of secrecy of Russian rule."
"I am convinced that her killer was, first and foremost, the paucity of freedoms in Russia. The lack of freedom killed freedom - this is where the sad logic of her killing comes from, no matter who is behind it," he wrote.
In Europe, the killing has sparked similar criticisms.
"Everything points to this crime aiming to eliminate a troublesome voice. But the message that Politkovskaya was trying to spread is only made stronger," said the French daily Le Monde, as translated by the BBC.
"The West has closed its eyes to Mr Putin's war. In France, there are even some voices which hail his work of 'restoring the state'. But what kind of state?" asks the paper, adding that "France has lost itself in flattering Mr Putin."
"The murder of Anna Politkovskaya is part of a climate of violence, intolerance and of disrespect for the rule of law for which this government bears a large part of the responsibility. It is high time to distance ourselves from it," Le Monde Says.
The leftist Paris daily Liberation also warns of Putin's "tyrant" tendencies, according to press survey in the Turkish daily Zaman. "The Putin order is well guarded in Russia, which has once again become an omnipresent police state. Putin is pursuing unimpeded the reconstruction of a Russian autocracy worthy of the past, aggressive with its neighbors... and repressive with its citizens."
In Germany, Politkovskaya's murder has spawned a new debate about democracy in Russia," says Spiegel Online, "a topic that was conspicuously absent under ex-chancellor Gerhard Schröder."
SO's press survey reports that the center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung criticized Schröder's "Putinphilia" and welcomed the Chancellor Angela Merkel's more reserved attitude toward the Russian president. The Berliner Zeitung asks, "Why should German companies invest in Russia if they can't count on the Russian rule of law, if they have to fear that problems and disputes will be resolved with bullets in the hallway or show trials?"
The Moscow daily Kommersant reports that investigators are exploring three theories: "that her killing was the revenge of police who were imprisoned as a result of her investigations, or a conspiracy among the opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov, or the revenge of Chechen rebels who went over to the federal side."
The Chechens have flatly denied involvement.
By Jefferson Morley |
October 11, 2006; 12:10 PM ET
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