Do you trust Russia?

The Russian government announced today that it has arrested ten people in connection with the October, 2006 murder of Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist

The Russian government announced today that it has arrested ten people in connection with the October, 2006 murder of Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist famous for pissing off the Russian government. Complicating factors:

1. The Kremlin-backed Chechen government was an immediate "suspect of interest" in her murder (she even foretold her death) given her criticisms of the Putin regime and the shocking number of journalist deaths since he assumed power.

2. Her murder happened shortly before the sensational November murder of Alexander Litvinenko in London via radiation poisoning-- and Litvinenko blamed Putin for both his death and Politkovskaya's from his deathbed.

Now, I am NOT saying in any way that anyone knows who committed these crimes. But on a macro level, the Russian government is simply not a credible source, what with all these enemies of it being brutally murdered.

Reacting to the news, Reporters Without Borders released the following statement:
“We hope this announcement has not been made solely to defuse the protests of NGOs and questions from journalists who want the case solved,” the press freedom organisation said. “We have in the past seen announcements by the Russian authorities that have been made just for effect. And most of the investigations into the murders of journalists have never been concluded.”

As one of the most important emerging markets in the world, it would behoove Russia to keep its conflict resolution strategy fully above board. And one hopes that Russia can make good on its claim to end restrictions on the press, as Dmitry Peskov, first deputy press secretary for President Putin, told Ted McKenna:
"Sometimes governors in certain Russian regions are trying to influence local press, to limit their capability for criticism," he says. "When we receive information about such situations, we do whatever is possible to get press free of those local authorities. But Russia is a huge country, don't forget."

It will also behoove everyone, including PR firms working in Russia, to have a fully functioning free and uncowed press in the country (remember also the murder of Forbes Russia editor Paul Klebnikov in 2004-- a crime that the government says may have been committed by some of the same people involved in Politkovskaya's death).

A free and open media environment is ultimately essential for a successful PR industry. Something to think about.

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