10th October, 2006
Members of the Chartered Institute of Journalists stood in a minute’s silence this morning (Tuesday, 10th October) in memory of the murdered Russian journalist, Anna Politikovskaya, at the opening of the Institute’s annual general meeting and annual conference in Malta.
Later, members proposed a strong motion deploring the reporter’s murder because the authorities did not like and were embarrassed by her investigative journalism in Chechnya, Beslan and elsewhere.
The motion requests the assistance of the British government, the European Parliament and the European Commission to bring pressure on the Russian Government “to do all it can to bring those responsible to swift justice and to create conditions that enable journalists to work without fear of their lives”.
Considerable anger was expressed at the friendship of British prime minister Tony Blair with Russian president Putin, who it was felt was responsible for the murder. But it was felt that he would have more influence on the Russians than the Russian Ambassador, who probably would not even see the protest if the Institute complained to the Russian embassy.
Ms. Politikovskaya, a distinguished journalist who wrote for the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, had already been attacked and threatened several times for fearlessly writing what was going on in sensitive parts of Russia. She had been jailed, forced into temporary exile in Austria and poisoned, and militants had tried to break into a car her daughter was driving.
If Russia wished to be taken seriously in the modern world said several members, it would need to treat journalists differently and allow freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The speed with which it caught the perpetrators of this murder would be a good indication as to whether it was ready to be admitted to the civilized world.
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Issued on behalf of the Chartered nstitutte of Journalists, London SE16 2XU