May 28, 2024

Press Freedom

Russian Federation

Russia October 6, 2010

H.E. Dmitri Medvedev, President
The Kremlin
Russian Federation
Fax: (011.7.495) 206.6277/ 5173

H.E. Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister
Government Offices
2 Krasnopresnenskaya Naberezhnaya
Russian Federation
Fax: (011.7.495) 206.4622, 205.4219

Your Excellencies:

We write to applaud the announcement by Aleksandr Bastrykin, chairman of the Investigative Committee, pledging to pursue 19 cases of murdered journalists in recent years. In response to protests by a delegation of our colleagues from the Committee to Protect Journalists that journalists are being killed with impunity in Russia, Bastrykin said, “It’s a matter of honor for us to solve these murders. It’s a matter of proving our professionalism.”

The Overseas Press Club of America, an independent organization that has defended press freedom around the world for more than 70 years, is gratified that the Investigative Committee is taking up the cases of Anna Politkovskaya, Natalya Estemirova, Paul Klebnikov, Anastasia Baburova, and Magomed Yevloyev, all of which have been repeatedly highlighted by press watchdog groups around the world. And we are pleased that the Committee is also looking into the less conspicuous cases of Pavel Makeev, whose killing in 2005 had been classified as a car accident, and Vagif Kochetkov, whose murder in 2006 has languished since a suspect was acquitted.

But we hope the Committee will pay special attention to two more cases, in both of which journalists who died by defenestration were shrugged off as suicides. Please look again at the case of Olga Kotovskaya, who plunged from a 14th-floor window in November, 2008, the day after a court ruled that her TV channel, “Kaskad,” had been seized by a group of local bureaucrats on the basis of forged documents. Her colleagues, outraged at the immediate ruling that the death was a suicide, argued that she had as little reason to kill herself as she had to be in the building where her body was found.

With suspicious similarity, the body of Ivan Safronov, investigative reporter for the journal, Kommersant, died in a fall from a fourth-story window in the stairwell of his Moscow apartment building in March, 2006. The death was promptly ruled a suicide. Safronov had angered powerful figures in the Russian military establishment with his exposes, and according to his colleagues, he had no reason or wish to take his own life.

Your Excellencies, it is undeniably a good thing that Russia is finally paying attention to the pent-up outrage of the world press at the impunity that has followed the killing of at least 52 journalists in your country since 1992, by the conservative count of the CPJ. But it should be needless to say that it will take more than promises to quiet the criticism. If the Investigative Committee’s work is not followed by prosecutions and convictions, the stain on Russia’s reputation will persist.

Thank you for your attention. We would appreciate a reply.

Respectfully yours,

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


H.E. Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov
Foreign Minister
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Moscow  121200, Russian Federation Fax:(011.7.495) 244-3448

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

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

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

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

Dmitri Peskov
First Deputy Spokesman of the President
    of the Russian Federation
c/o  Embassy of the Russian Federation
2650 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20007
Fax: (202) 298.5735

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

Andrey Vitalyevich Vasilyev
Kommersant Daily
4 Vrubelya Street

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