July 15, 2024

Press Freedom

Russian Federation

Russia June 2, 2011

H.E. Dmitri Medvedev
Russian Federation
Fax:  (011.7.495) 206.6277 / 5173

H.E. Vladimir Putin
Prime Minister
Russian Federation
Fax: (011.7.495) 206.4622 / 205.4219

Your Excellencies:

Again we write to congratulate you on a positive development for freedom of the press in Russia, this time the arrest of Rustam Makhmudov, the alleged triggerman in the notorious murder in 2006 of the courageous journalist, Anna Politkovskaya.  But it remains to be seen whether this arrest will actually help determine who was to blame for the killing.

According to the New York Times, your government has said that Alexandr Bastrykin, head of the Investigative Committee, which you appointed to look into the many unpunished deaths of journalists in recent years, repeatedly traveled to Belgium to persuade officials to force Makhmudov out of his refuge there.  However, Murad Musayev, a lawyer who has defended one of Mackhmudov’s brothers in this case, told reporters that Makhmudov has been in Chechnya all along and has been offering to surrender and cooperate with the investigation.  In the event, he was arrested at his parents’ house in Chechnya.  In light of Mr. Bastrykin’s long record as a consistent ally and supporter of Prime Minister Putin, skepticism about the Investigative Committee’s role in genuinely investigating Russia’s plague of murdered journalists will be settled only if this arrest results in pinpointing the person or persons who actually commissioned Politkovskaya’s murder.  The Overseas Press Club of America, an independent organization that has been defending press freedom around the world for more than 70 years, will be among the many watchdogs of press freedom actively following this case.

Meanwhile, we deplore and condemn the murder in Dagestan on May 8 of Yakhya Magomedov, the editor of an Avar-language version of the moderate Islamic As-Salam magazine.  He was shot four times while leaving the house of his brother, and local police say the killing was probably a mistake by gunmen who were trying to kill Magomedov’s brother, a policeman.  However, As-Salam has actively exposed government corruption, and has angered Muslim fundamentalists with its moderate stance.  We urge you and Mr. Bastrykin to look actively into the possibility that Magomedov was executed in retaliation for his journalistic work.  In recent years, three other journalists in the region of the Caucasus — Magomed Yevloyev, Magomedsharif Sultanmagomedov and Abdulmalik Ahmedilov — have all been killed with impunity.  This record speaks for itself, and must be remedied.

Respectfully yours,
Larry Martz
Kevin McDermott
Co-chairmen, Freedom of the Press Committee


H.E. Sergey V. Lavrov
Foreign Minister
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Moscow  121200
Russian Federation
Fax: (011.7.495) 244.3448

H.E. Sergey I. Kislyak
Russian Ambassador to the U.S.A.
Embassy of the Russian Federation
2650 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20007
Fax:  (202) 298.5735

Ambassador Vitaly Churkin
Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations
136 East 67th Street
New York, NY  10021
Fax: (212) 628.0252

H.E. John Beyrle
U.S. Ambassador to Russia
Embassy of the United States of America
8 Bolshoy Devyatinskiy
Moscow  121099
Fax:  (011.7.495) 728.5090

Andrey Vitalyevich Vasilyev
Kommersant Daily
4 Vrubelya Street
Moscow, Russia

Aleksey K. Simonov
Glasnost Defense Foundation
4 Zubovskiy Boulevard, # 432
Moscow  119021
Fax: (011.7.495) 637.4947

Andrew McChesney
The Moscow Times
Ul. Polkovaya, 3, build. 1
Moscow  127018

Maria Otero
Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C.  20520