MOSCOW — A judge on Monday handed down sentences ranging from 12 years to life in prison to five men convicted in the shooting death of Russia’s most prominent crusading journalist.
The sentencing, however, did little to assuage the family and supporters of Anna Politkovskaya, who was gunned down as she was getting into the elevator of her apartment building in Moscow on Oct. 7, 2006. The men convicted in the case were contract killers, and no one has been charged with hiring them.
“I don’t feel satisfaction, I don’t feel a thing,” Ilya Politkovsky, the slain journalist’s son, said in an interview. “We will never consider the case closed unless the person or persons who ordered her killed are found and tried in court.”
Politkovskaya, 48, who earned fame and the government’s enmity for her reporting on President Vladimir Putin and the Russian war in Chechnya, was shot twice in the body and once in the head as she entered the elevator with her hands full of shopping bags. The building’s webcam recorded the fleeing killer, a shadowy figure in a baseball cap.
More than seven years and two trials later, four men from Chechnya and a former organized crime police officer were sentenced following their convictions in the case last month.
As the prisoners smiled from inside a bulletproof glass cage in a Moscow courtroom, Judge Pavel Melyokhin read a verdict saying Politkovskaya was killed for her work “exposing human rights violations, embezzlement and abuse of power.”
He handed down life sentences to the man convicted of organizing the murder, Lom-Ali Gaytukayev, and to his nephew, Rustam Makhmudov, who pulled the trigger.
Sergei Kahdzhikurbanov, a former organized crime officer who helped Gaytukayev plot the killing, received 20 years, and Makhmudov’s younger brothers, Dzhebrail and Ibragim Makhmudov, were sentenced to 12 and 14 years, respectively, for assisting in the crime.
All five were convicted by a jury last month.
In 2009, Dzhebrail and Ibragim Makhmudov were acquitted of suspected involvement in the case; the judge then cited a lack of conclusive evidence.
Another suspect, a Moscow police officer, pleaded guilty in 2012 to charges related to allegations that he provided the murder weapon and set up police surveillance of Politkovskaya, feeding the information to the killers. He was sentenced to 11 years after agreeing to cooperate with authorities.
Politkovskaya, the daughter of a Soviet diplomat, was born in New York City and held joint U.S. and Russian citizenship. She had been among the most vocal critics of Mr. Putin and his policies in restive Chechnya, where she had frequently traveled to report on the horrors of the war, including atrocities, torture and the killings and kidnappings of civilians.?
Politkovskaya wrote for the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, whose deputy editor, Sergei Sokolov, complained Monday that those ultimately responsible for her death had escaped justice so far.Russia - Eastern Europe - Europe - Vladimir Putin - Moscow - Russia government - Chechnya - Anna Politkovskaya