Wien, 9. October 2006 Press release

Plassnik: "A fearless fighter for human rights in Russia"

09.10.2006

Foreign Minister calls for quick and full investigation of Anna Politkovskaya's murder

Vienna, 9 October 2006 - Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik was shocked and deeply affected by the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, who as a journalist had become known through her reports on the war in Chechnya:

"This is an outrageous crime. I expect the Russian authorities to conduct a quick and fully-fledged investigation into the murder. In a democratic state in which the rule of law prevails independent and critical journalists must not be intimidated or silenced. On the contrary, it is at this very moment that Russian politics and society must support the effective protection of critical journalists and human rights defenders," commented the Foreign Minister.

Plassnik recalled that the journalist, who was internationally reputed for her critical commitment with regard to safeguarding basic rights and fundamental freedoms in the northern Caucasus, had moved to Vienna for several months in 2001 following repeated murder threats.

"Anna Politkovskaya was an especially courageous woman who went to Chechnya time and again in spite of intimidation and threats, denouncing the human rights violations there. Her warnings deeply stirred Russia’s conception of democracy and the rule of law. Her fearless commitment was exemplary and met with respect throughout the world. We owe it to her memory not to cease paying attention to the situation in Chechnya and in Russia as a whole," continued the Foreign Minister.

"A democratic system of values cannot exist without free and critical media reporting," emphasised the Austrian Foreign Minister. Accordingly, this topic had been an essential item in the EU's human rights consultations with Russia under Austria's EU Presidency. "My sympathy goes to Anna Politkovskaya’s family, her colleagues at "Novaya Gazeta" and to all her fellow journalists in Russia," concluded Plassnik.

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