Anna Politkovskaya’s newspaper on Thursday published an unfinished article on torture in Chechnya that the journalist was working on when she was killed.
The article, accompanied by graphic images taken from a video, described the alleged torture by Kremlin-backed Chechen security services of suspects branded terrorists.
The video was apparently shot by the people committing the torture, and four pictures reproduced in the paper were accompanied by a Russian translation of the torturers’ expletive-filled conversation in Chechen about how hard it was to kill the victims.
“Are we fighting legally against lawlessness?” Politkovskaya asked. “Or are we thrashing them with our own lawlessness?”
The story included written testimony from a Chechen who was extradited from Ukraine to a Chechen government office in Grozny, where he was allegedly hung by his hands and feet from a pole and beaten, subjected to electric shock and suffocated with a bag over his head to force him to confess to killings he said he did not commit.
He made the confession to journalists, whom he told – on his interrogators’ orders – that his injuries were sustained during an escape attempt.
“When prosecutors and judges work not for the law and punishment of the guilty, but on political orders and in pursuit of anti-terrorist aims that are pleasing to the Kremlin, then criminal cases multiply like hot cakes,” Politkovskaya wrote.
Some colleagues thought Politkovskaya’s killing on Saturday could have been connected with the story; she had told Radio Liberty last week that she was working on it, and that she was serving as a witness in criminal investigations into allegations of torture in Chechnya.
But others thought it could have been connected to any number of Politkovskaya’s stories, which focused on military and security services’ abuse of civilians, the circumstances surrounding the 2002 Moscow theatre siege and the 2004 Beslan school tragedy, and other issues that were sensitive to the government.
In recent years, she had repeatedly accused Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov’s security forces of abducting, torturing and killing innocent people.
Kadyrov on Wednesday repeated his denial of any part in her killing.
“I don’t kill women and never have. Women should be loved; for us Chechens, a woman is sacred,” he said in comments televised on NTV television.
“I think that those who ordered Anna Politkovskaya’s murder wanted to blacken me.”