MOSCOW: Five men received long prison terms yesterday for the killing of prominent Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya after a trial that failed to reveal who masterminded the Russian journalist’s murder.
Politkovskaya, an investigative reporter who uncovered state corruption and rights abuses, especially in Chechnya, was gunned down in the lobby of her Moscow apartment block at the age of 48 on October 7, 2006. The case caused international outrage because of the brutality of the contract-style killing and the failure of the authorities — even now, after nearly eight years and several trials — to identify who commissioned it.
Kremlin critics and rights campaigners say it symbolises the weakness of the rule of law in Russia. “I will be satisfied only when the person or people who ordered this will be sentenced,” said Politkovskaya’s son Ilya.
The five men, convicted by a jury last month, exchanged smiles in the defendants’ glass box before judge Pavel Melyokhin handed down the sentences. He ordered life imprisonment for Rustam Makhmudov, found guilty of pulling the trigger, and his uncle Lom-Ali Gaitukayev, who organised the logistics. The other three received 12, 14 and 20 years.