Russia pardons ex-cop convicted in infamous murder of journalist who criticized Putin

Moscow, Russia - One of the men convicted of the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya has been pardoned following his front-line service in Moscow's war against Ukraine, according to local media reports.

Sergey Khadzhikurbanov (r.), who was convicted for the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, has been pardoned after serving in the Ukraine war.
Sergey Khadzhikurbanov (r.), who was convicted for the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, has been pardoned after serving in the Ukraine war.  © ANDREI SMIRNOV / AFP

Sergei Khadzhikurbanov's pardon was confirmed to the news portal RBK by the lawyer of the former police officer, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2014.

In a comment to Russian media, journalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov described the pardon as a systematic disregard for the rights of the victims by the state.

Politkovskaya, a journalist critical of the Kremlin, was shot dead outside her flat in October 2006. Several men from the North Caucasus republic of Chechnya were convicted for their part in the murder. One of them has since died in prison.

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Politkovskaya's family suspect a political motive and are still demanding a full investigation into the killing.

The Russian news outlet Baza posted on its Telegram channel that the ex-policeman convicted of the murder was sent to the Russian-Ukrainian front at the end of 2022. After six months, he is said to have extended his contract with the Ministry of Defense.

The Russian army suffered heavy losses in the first months of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine and a recruitment campaign of prison inmates was launched to fill the army's ranks.

Convicted criminals – including many who had carried out serious violent crimes – were promised their freedom in return for military service.

Cover photo: ANDREI SMIRNOV / AFP

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