Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) goes to Russia to attend the Markelov funeral and gather facts surrounding the murders of Markelov and Anastasia Baburova:
We should add one slight correction to RSF’s fact-finding report. Yevgenia Chirikova, a comrade of Mikhail Beketov in the Movement to Defend the Khimki Forest, will now apparently be allowed to run in the Khimki mayoral elections, scheduled for March 1. The Moscow Region Electoral Commission has reversed an earlier decision by the municipal electoral commission, which refused to register her candidacy.
Meanwhile, the rest of Russian officialdom continues its retreat into a parallel reality that bears little resemblance to the world most everyone else inhabits:
The Russian Interior Ministry has identified the cause of most murders of Russian journalists. As quoted by ITAR-TASS, according to Valery Gribankin, head of the ministry’s public relations department, mass media employees are mainly killed during domestic conflicts. According to Gribankin, the number of attacks connected to the publications and investigations of journalists is not great. “When mass media correspondents become the victims of criminals, their journalist colleagues rush to conclusions and they push to the foreground as the principal theory [of why these crimes were committed] the professional activities of the victims,” the Interior Ministry spokesman underscored.
In fact, as reported by the Committee to Protect Journalists, during the period 1992–2008, 49 journalists were killed in Russia as a result of or in the course of their duties. This earned the country third place in the CPJ rankings. During this same period, only Iraq (136 killed) and Algeria (60 killed) were more dangerous places for journalists to work.
So why this odd official Russian disavowal of the problem, hot on the heels of the Markelov/Baburova murders? The reason is simple. Gribankin is carrying out a preventive strike in the run-up to this:
Russian human rights activists have submitted around a hundred questions for a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council, which today [February 4, 2009] will hear Russia’s report.
Russian justice minister Alexander Konovalov will address council members in Geneva.
As Oleg Orlov, head of the Memorial Human Rights Center, informed Interfax, he and his colleagues have seen a draft of the report and believe that it hushes up many problems.
In their reports, international human rights organizations declare that murders of politicians and journalists have become routine in Russia, and that, especially in Chechnya, an atmosphere of impunity reigns in the country.