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Russia / France15 January 2007

Pledge of continuing vigilance at ceremony on 100th day after Politkovskaya’s murder

(JPEG) Reporters Without Borders paid homage to slain Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya in a ceremony outside Notre Dame cathedral in Paris today, the 100th day after her murder on 7 October in Moscow, lighting candles and hanging a photo and poster of Politkovskaya on the statue of Charlemagne in the square in front of the church (photo : D.Pucet).

Politicians, intellectuals and friends took part in the event, some speaking of their memories of Politkovskaya and the importance of her combative journalism. French philosopher André Glucksmann said she was in a tradition of Russians who challenge the abuse of power by their country’s elite. “To those who worried about her, she replied that she would not be the first to be crushed by the government nor the last to resist,” Glucksmann said.

Fellow philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy blamed the Kremlin for the growing climate of violence and impunity, and for causing (JPEG) the shipwrecks that are sinking Russia’s fragile liberties. Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard recalled that the press freedom organisation had asked the French council of state to strip President Putin of his Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour (photo : AFP - Martin Bureau).

Russian prosecutor-general Yuri Chaika has been put in charge of investigating Politkovskaya’s murder and 100 men have been assigned to the case, but virtually nothing is known about what they have found out.

A campaign about this case must be maintained so that it is not hushed up. Today’s gathering served to reaffirm the importance of finding out the truth about this murder. French foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said he would ensure that “the Russian authorities are reminded of our desire for their investigations to reach a rapid conclusion and for international organisations such as the OSCE and Council of Europe to continue to follow the matter.”

Reporters Without Borders reaffirmed its intention to remain vigilant and active no matter how longer the investigation continues. It also stressed that it would maintain its efforts to keep the public informed about the situation of the press in Russia, where 21 journalists have been murdered in connection with their work since Vladimir Putin became president in March 2000.

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