Sunday, October 15, 2006

Tunne Kelam: "A Climate of Impunity"

Tunne Kelam’s speech on the murder of independent Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya at the European Parliament’s Plenary session, Brussels, October 11, 2006.

I would like to pay tribute to Anna Politkovskaya, the highly respected investigative reporter, known as symbol of honest journalism in Russia, who bravely stood up in defense of human life and dignity and who objectively disclosed different forms of crimes and lies, especially in Chechnya. The best way for each and every one of us to truly honour Anna Politkovskaya’s work is to read her book Putin’s Russia and draw our own conclusions.

While condemning in strongest terms this murder, we need also to be aware that systematic intimidation, harassment and murdering of independent journalists as well as other persons critical of the Government - with the subsequent investigations producing no results - has created a climate of impunity in which killers seem not to fear the law. Russia has become one of the deadliest countries for journalists.

This is damaging to Russia’s credibility as the Council of Europe’ presidency state. It also raises grave doubts about whether the EU and Russia share common values. Therefore, I ask the Presidency of the EU Council to raise this issue at the forthcoming Lahti summit.

On behalf of the EPP-ED group I also call on the Commission and the EU member states to take a principled stand in insisting on the restoration of freedom of press and respect for independent journalism as one of the main prerequisites for renewing the EU-Russia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement in 2007. Only when the EU sends a clear signal that we value the life and message of this courageous woman not less than oil and gas will things start to change in Russia.

I am convinced that the only means to honour Anna Politkovskaya’s passionate commitment to truth, justice and human dignity is to launch a common effort to make real her dream of a democratic Russia, where citizens will not have to pay with their lives for telling the truth.

Tunne Kelam, a MEP from Estonia, has initiated a draft resolution on the murder of Anna Politkovskaya and suppression of free media in Russia. The resolution will be discussed during the European Parliament’s next plenary session in Strasbourg at the end of October.

(Via MAK)

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