Family, friends and admirers were paying their final respects yesterday at the funeral of investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya, a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the government and military's conduct in Chechnya.
Politkovskaya, 48, was fatally shot in her apartment building on Saturday in an apparent contract killing that highlighted the risks faced by journalists who criticize the Russian authorities and dig deep to expose abuses.
At home and abroad, her slaying has drawn widespread concern about media freedom in Russia and calls for authorities to find and punish her murderers. Prosecutors have said she was probably killed because of her journalistic work, but there are no immediate leads.
"The main prescription for not allowing something similar to happen is to guarantee 100 percent that not only the executors but also those who ordered this crime are found and punished," the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Sergei Mironov, the speaker of the upper house of parliament, as saying.
Politkovskaya was buried yesterday at a Moscow cemetery following an afternoon funeral service. Since her death, people have laid flowers outside her central Moscow apartment building, where her body was found in an elevator.
Putin has made no public statement about Politkovskaya's killing, but the Kremlin said he assured US President George W. Bush in a telephone conversation on Monday that there would be an objective investigation into her "tragic death."
Prosecutor-General Yuri Chaika has taken personal charge of the investigation, but Politkovskaya's colleagues have expressed doubts her slaying will be solved.
Her newspaper has pledged to conduct an independent investigation and offered a 25 million ruble (US$929,700) reward for information that would help solve the crime.
A fierce critic of the wars in Chechnya, Politkovskaya reported on abuses by forces of the Russian military and the Moscow-backed government. Colleagues said she had been working on a story about torture and abductions in Chechnya, abuses she blamed on Moscow-backed Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov.
The newspaper Novaya Gazeta, where Politkovskaya had worked, said on Sunday that the killing was either revenge by Kadyrov or an attempt to discredit him. In a newspaper interview published on Monday, Kadyrov denied any link to Chechnya in the killing.
Russia is the third most deadly country for journalists, after Iraq and Algeria, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which says Politkovskaya was at least the 43rd journalist killed for her work in Russia since 1993.
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A murder in Moscow