Five sentenced in slaying of Russian journalist

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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

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