People hold portraits of murdered Russian journalist Politkovskaya during mourning ceremony at Russian embassy in Kiev.

© 2006 Reuters

(Moscow, October 9, 2006) - Human Rights Watch is deeply saddened by the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaia. Human Rights Watch condemns this horrifying crime and calls on the Russian government to conduct a thorough investigation into her death and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Politkovskaia was found shot dead in the elevator of her apartment building in Moscow on October 7.

“There can be no question but that Politkovskaia was killed in retribution for her work,” said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director for Human Rights Watch.

Since the start of the second war in Chechnya in 1999, Politkovskaia's investigative journalism exposed human rights abuses in Chechnya committed by Russia's federal forces and, more recently, under the command of Ramzan Kadyrov, who is now Chechnya's prime minister. According to Novaia Gazeta, the newspaper Politkovskaia wrote for, she was working on an article about torture in Chechnya that was to be published in the paper's October 9 issue.

“Politkovskaia sought justice for victims of human rights abuses,” said Cartner. “Her voice on their behalf will be terribly missed.”

Human Rights Watch also expressed concerned for the safety of other journalists and human rights defenders and called on the government to ensure their protection.

“Politkovskaia’s death worsens an already dangerous climate for those who expose human rights abuses in Russia,” Cartner said. “The government must publicly and forcefully commit to supporting their work and to showing that it will not tolerate such crimes.”

Human Rights Watch extends its deepest sympathies to Politkovskaia's family, friends and colleagues.