Anatomy of Injustice: The Unsolved Killings of Journalists in Russia

Posted September 15, 2009

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Preface by Kati Marton

About this Report

1. Summary

2. A Record of Impunity: Seventeen Deaths

Secrecy, indifference, and conflicts mar investigations into journalist deaths. Moscow has a responsibility to uphold the rule of law. Its international partners have an obligation, too.

SIDEBAR: Roadmap for the International Community

3. High Profile, Low Success: Two Cases Fall Apart

Assassins targeted internationally known journalists Paul Klebnikov and Anna Politkovskaya two years apart in Moscow. Despite promises, arrests, and trials, no one has been brought to justice.

SIDEBAR: In Defense of Jury Trials

4. Local Journalists at Risk: Profound Impact, Grave Dangers

Enterprising young reporters tackling sensitive local topics are often isolated and vulnerable to reprisals from powerful forces. Eduard Markevich and Pavel Makeev paid the ultimate price.

SIDEBAR: A Federal System to Investigate, Prosecute

5. No Foul Play: Brushing Aside Suspicious Deaths

Yuri Shchekochikhin and Ivan Safronov were energetic journalists, expert in their fields, fair in their reporting. They died in suspicious circumstances that have not been fully investigated.

SIDEBAR: When Everything Is ‘Top Secret’

6. Investigating the Investigators: When Police Are Suspects

Can President Medvedev halt attacks on the press without moving against corruption in law enforcement agencies? The slayings of Maksim Maksimov and Magomed Yevloyev show how the issues are intertwined.

SIDEBAR: Public Apathy Hampers Press

7. The Robberies: Reaching for a Dubious Motive

Investigators are quick to classify slayings as street crimes rather than examine more sensitive motives. The murders of Natalya Skryl and Vagif Kochetkov were mischaracterized—and then botched.

SIDEBAR: In Their Words

8. The Togliatti Murders: ‘They Can’t Kill Us All’

Valery Ivanov and Aleksei Sidorov were friends and colleagues, a pair of crusading editors out to expose crime and make a splash in Russia’ car-making capital. They were murdered 18 months apart.

SIDEBAR: No Place for Justice

9. The Deadly Caucasus: Reporting at Extreme Risk

Journalists have been silenced for covering Chechnya and its neighboring republics, Dagestan and Ingushetia. Opaque investigations into the killings of Vladimir Yatsina, Magomedzagid Varisov, Telman Alishayev, and Anastasiya Baburova have fed deep skepticism.

SIDEBAR: ‘Who Needs Your Truth?’

10. A (Limited) Success: Landmark Convictions Won

Guilty verdicts in the killing of Igor Domnikov show that persistence can lead to justice. But critics say the case, successful as it has been, remains far from complete.

SIDEBAR: A Measure of Justice

11. Recommendations

Appendix I: Excerpts From the Work of Journalists Slain in Russia since 2000

Appendix II: Key Statistics

Video Report: The authors discuss impunity in journalist killings in Russia

This report made possible by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. To request a printed copy of this report, e-mail

Photos, top row: Natalya Skryl (Novoye Vremya), Valery Ivanov (CJES), Igor Domnikov (Novaya Gazeta), Anna Politkovskaya (Novaya Gazeta), Vagif Kochetkov (CJES), Paul Klebnikov, Vladimir Yatsina (CJES), Telman Alishayev (CJES). Photos, second row: Eduard Markevic (CJES), Aleksei Sidorov (CJES), Pavel Makeev (CJES), Yuri Shchekochikhin (CJES), Magomedzagid Varisov (CJES), Anastasiya Baburova (Novaya Gazeta), Maksim Maksimov (CJES), Magomed Yevloyev (CJES), Ivan Safronov (Kommersant).