Statement of Moscow bureau for human rights on violence towards the journalists
The society where full-fledged civil institutions are not yet created, where corruption and arbitrariness of officials and courts are still ruling especially needs the timely and objective information. Only the journalists` efficiency, courage, honest and unbiased attitude towards the events happening in the country can become a bridge connecting the society and the authority and be a catalyst of political, social and economic reforms.
It`snonrandomthatjournalismisoneofespeciallydangerousprofessions. This happens because these are the journalists who stand on the way of crimes and investigate keenly the dirty political intrigues, multi-million frauds and corruption scandals. Many people within the authority who use their public positions for gaining profit and don`t stand apart from the most disgusting methods for gaining their political objectives, try to make themselves safe from inconvenient journalists. Sometimestheyuseextrememeasuresuptothemurder.

During 2007 more than 60 journalists were killed in the world due to their professional activity. According to the statistics of the Committee for the journalists` protection, this year became the second by death rate among the press representatives during the whole period of such data collection. 85% of such murders are committed with impunity. Killers and their employers avoid responsibility. The lesson is obvious for the colleagues of the victim: not to touch upon sharp problems in their reports. Unfortunately this lesson is learnt by journalists in many countries. They use self-censorship, and the whole society suffers from this being deprived of the most important information and possibility to call the people of authority to account.
In Russia which is just on the distant approaches to real democracy this problem is especially sharp. During recent decades many journalists were killed and the most famous among them - Listyev, Kholodov, Shchekochikhin, Politkovskaya and others – are just a small share of journalists who perished executing their official functions. The recent murders of M. Yevloyev and T. Alishayev caused much stir. The rights defenders have lots of complaints concerning the progress of investigation of these resonant cases.

And the crime that just happened alarmed many people. On November 13 the editor of Moscow regional newspaper "Khimkinskaya pravda" Mikhail Beketov was found unconscious in the yard of his house. He was beaten almost to death. Problems of Moscow region were always the subjects of investigations of the journalist. He founded his own newspaper "Khimkinskaya Pravda" for publishing everything he considered to be important. According to the previous accounts of the beaten journalist, he got threats by telephone all the time due to his critical publications concerning Khimki administration; he addressed the local law-enforcement bodies with this but there was no response.
When law-enforcement bodies are indifferent towards such threats and towards investigations of the committed crimes, this is the bright sign of the society illness. And Russia (together with Philippines) remains one of the least efficacious countries as regards investigation of the journalists` murders – the courts pass damning verdicts approximately in one case among ten.

If the journalists are beaten and killed with impunity in the country, then the only link permitting people to know what happens around them is broken. And such a society is doomed to total confrontation of authority and people, to wild outburst of corruption and lack of democracy.

We would like to hope the most dangerous tendencies would be suppressed, the journalists would find themselves protected and everyone trying to be in the way of their investigations and all the more making an attempt on their lives would be toughly punished.
At present the trial over the killers of Anna Politkovskaya is held. It was announced not long ago that the trial will be open and the public will have a chance to get all the information on the murder being so indicative for our society. But according to recent information the trial was announced closed at the request of the jury.
Is this a continuation of the regrettable tendency or a real judicial necessity? The public being really anxious concerning the fate of the country insists on the response.
Moscow bureau for human rights greets the initiative of the Public chamber of Russia intending to open the center of the journalists` protection in 2009.

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