April 16, 2024

Press Freedom

Russian Federation

Russia October 9, 2006

H.E. Vladimir Putin
The Kremlin
Russian Federation
Fax: (011.7.095) 206-6277/ 5173

Your Excellency:

  The brutal murder of Anna Politkovskaya is indeed, as former President Mikhail Gorbachev has said, “a grave crime against the country, against all of us.” Ms. Politkovskaya was Russia ‘s foremost journalist, renowned for her courage, her independent mind, and her balanced but aggressive reporting. She won many international awards, including the first Artyom Borovik Award of our own Overseas Press Club of America. Although your government disapproved of her coverage of the conflict in Chechnya , her factual accuracy was unquestioned, and her articles in Novaya Gazeta have served as a window on that brutal war for the whole country. Her killing, by a contract-style executioner in her own apartment building, is also an indictment of Russia ‘s current policy toward independent journalism. At least twelve other journalists have been killed since you came to power, including Paul Klebnikov, the American editor of Forbes Russia , and no one has been punished for any of these murders.

  Anna Politkovskaya’s death must end this sorry record. We call on you to order not just the usual desultory investigation of this crime, but a full and genuine hunt for the killer and for whoever gave the orders. In view of the record of failure of similar past probes, there will be no credibility in any investigation that is not fully transparent. We urge you to invite respected independent investigators from the international community to take part in the search for Ms. Politkovskaya’s killers, giving them full access to whatever evidence turns up. And this investigation must go back to probe all the unsolved murders, including Klebnikov’s.

  Just as important, we ask you to take this occasion to reaffirm your own past support for the principles of press freedom and freedom of expression in Russia . In recent months, the human rights record in your country has led many to conclude that you are abandoning these ideals. You can end this suspicion by a strong statement condemning Ms. Politkovskaya’s murder, ordering the kind of investigation we have recommended, and backing up your words with conspicuous action by officials at all levels throughout Russia .

  A good beginning would be to halt the repeated harassment of the independent weekly Permsky Obozrevatel , a rare source of independent news in the city of Perm , and the persecution of its staff.

  According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the weekly’s photo correspondent, Vladimir Korolyov, has been formally charged with “disclosing state secrets” and is being held in a pretrial detention center, despite having recently been released from a hospital after treatment for a heart condition. No details or even characterizations of the secrets allegedly disclosed have been specified by the authorities.

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  Korolyov’s lawyer, Karen Nersisian, says her client has been placed in a cell with dangerous criminals and is being pressed to make damaging statements about the newspaper and its founder, Igor Grinberg. In addition, investigators have searched the homes of all eight of Permsky Obozrevatel’s staff members, confiscating computers and private items including photographs, videotapes and audiotapes.

  The Perm Regional Prosecutor’s Office has now opened a total of three criminal cases against Permsky Obozrevatel . The newspaper is clearly being persecuted in retaliation for its independent reporting, in violation of the media freedom you have repeatedly promised to respect. We urge you to see that these cases are speedily disposed of, and to ensure that officials throughout Russia understand and follow the principles of press freedom.

  Your Excellency, the murder of Anna Politkovskaya has shocked and dismayed defenders of press freedom around the world. If you can take it as a signal to reverse your recent policy of repression and enforce the defense of human rights in Russia , her death will not have been entirely in vain.

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

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



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Mikhail Yefimovich Fradkov

Prime Minister

Government Offices

2 Krasnopresnenskaya Naberezhnaya


Russian Federation

Fax: (011.7.095) 206-4622


Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov

Foreign Minister

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Moscow 121200

Russian Federation


Ambassador Andrey Ivanovich Denisov

Permanent Representative

Permanent Mission of the Russian

Federation to the United Nations

136 East 67 th Street

New York , NY 10021

Fax: (212) 628-0252


Aleksey Kirillovich Simonov


Glasnost Defense Foundation

4 Zubovskiy Blvd., # 432

Moscow 119021


Fax: (011.7.095) 201-4947

E-mail: simonov@gdf.ru


Lynn Berry


The Moscow Times

16 Vyborgskaya Street , building 4

Moscow 125212, Russia

Fax: (011.7. 095) 937-3393

E-mail: l.berry@imedia.ru


Aleksander Vitalyevich Stukalin


Kommersant Daily

4 Vrubelya Street

Moscow , Russia

Fax: (011.7.095) 943-9728

E-mail: kommersant@kommersant.ru



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Yuriy Viktorovich Ushakov

Ambassador of Russia to the U.S.A.

Embassy of the Russian Federation

2650 Wisconsin Avenue, NW

Washington , DC 20007

Fax: (202) 298-5735


Mr. 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


Alexander R. Vershbow

U.S. Ambassador to Russia

Embassy of the United States of America

8 Bolshoy Devyatinskiy Pereulok

Moscow 121099


Fax: (011.7.095) 728-5090


Tatyana Petrovna Koshkaryova


Nezavisimaya Gazeta

13 Myasnitskaya Street , building.3



Fax: (011.7. 095) 981-5434

E-mail: office@ng.ru


Vladimir Alekseyevich Borodin



18 Tverskaya Street , building 1

Moscow 127994


Fax: (011.7.095) 514-0223

E-mail: alekseeva@izvestia.ru


Pavel Nikolayevich Gusev


Moskovskiy Komsomolets

7 Ulitsa 1905 Goda

Moscow 123995, Russia

Fax: (011.7.095) 259-4639

E-mail: berestovenko@mk.ru


Robert Munro


The St.Petersburg Times

4 Isakiyevskaya square

St.Petersburg 190000


Tel/fax: (011.7.812) 325-6080

E-mail: munro@sptimes.ru


Tatyana Gennadyevna Lysova

Editor-in-Chief, Vedomosti

16 Vyborgskaya Street

Moscow 125212, Russia

Fax: (011.7.095) 956-0716

E-mail: vedomosti@imedia.ru


Dmitriy Andreyevich Muratov


Novaya Gazeta

3 Potapovskiy pereulok

Moscow 101990


Fax: (011.7.095) 923-6888

E-mail: gazeta@novayagazeta.ru