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Cleared the office after the killing

The day before Anna Politkovskaya's Chechnya article went to press, the police cleared the source material office.


[seized] – The police arrived on Sunday and retrieved all the material for this case. We do not know when we will get it back, but we have plans to publish the article.

This is stated by Roman Shleynov, editor of investigative journalism in the Novaja Gazeta, where Anna Politkovskaya worked.

The journalist was killed on October 7. Now the police have

the action delayed the publication of her article.

- We obtained some shocking images of torture in this case. They are so cruel that we have not been able to print them yet, Shleynov explains.

According to journalists in Novaja Gazeta and the Kommersant newspaper in Moscow, the police seized every document in Politkovskaya's office. They took her filing cabinets, file folders and her computer, and a plethora of letters from her sources in Chechnya. One of the journalists who comments anonymously in Kommersant says:

- They left nothing, they took every single document. I think it's good, it means they really want to find out everything.

Secretary-General of the Norwegian Press Association, Per Edgar Kokkvold, finds no reason to be optimistic.

- You do not have to believe in conspiracies to see that this is suspicious. In a normal situation, one would probably make sure to make copies, or that the editors are allowed to make copies and continue working on things when seizing original material in such a case, he says.

Kokkvold points out that Russian authorities have a widespread suspicion that they will not prioritize real investigation when critical journalists and other regime critics are killed.

- There is unfortunately reason to fear that this material or parts of it may be lost,

he says.

The police have resolved few or no such cases in recent years.

- They are suspected of seeing it as their task to defend the authorities against criticism and discomfort, says Kokkvold.

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is also concerned. The killing of journalist Anna Politkovskaya was the 13th journalist killing in Russia during Putin's presidential term.

- This case testifies to the enormous pressure journalists and human rights activists are exposed to, says leader Bjørn Engesland.

- The Attorney General in Moscow will lead the investigation. Do you believe in a speedy and credible solution?

- It is difficult not to have respect for Russian institutions. But let me say that it would have been wise of the Russian Duma in addition to setting up a commission of inquiry to shed light on the conditions for those who work with freedom of expression and other human rights issues in Russia.

A report conducted in the pen by Aage Storm Borchgrevink of the Helsinki Committee highlights a number of disturbing figures. Only related to human rights issues in Chechnya and Ingushetia, in Russia from 1999 to 2004, there were a total of 13 killings, 4 kidnappings, 19 illegal arrests and just as many cases of torture against human rights activists and journalists. The figures have increased since 2004.

By Tarjei Leer-Salvesen and Dag Herbjørnsrud

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