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Torture claims by slain Russian

BBC | October 11 2006

The last article by Anna Politkovskaya, the Russian journalist shot dead on Saturday, has been published in a special edition of her newspaper.
The uncompleted article alleges torture by pro-Russian Chechen security forces.

Novaya Gazeta carries eyewitness accounts and photos of people with injuries said to have been sustained while they were being tortured.

Ms Politkovskaya was an outspoken critic of the war in Chechnya and of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In her introduction she said that every day she still received many letters from mothers of young Chechens who had ended up in prison wrongly accused of terrorism offences.

The article contains a short letter from one man, Beslan Gadayev, who claimed he was forced to confess to murder after being tortured and beaten. He is now in prison.

There are also photographs from a video allegedly showing Chechen police torturing two young men. One is seen bleeding, another has a knife sticking out of him.

Some of Ms Politkovskaya's colleagues and supporters say they believe she was killed because of her work on Chechnya.

They are angry that Mr Putin did not speak about her murder for three days.

When he did, he said it was an "appalling" crime "that cannot go unpunished", but he also dismissed her work, saying her influence was "insignificant".

Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov has denied ordering the journalist's murder.

"Chechens do not go in for violently settling scores, certainly not with women. And she was a woman... I do not kill women and I have never killed women," he said.

A recent article by Ms Politkovskaya suggests she might have contested that claim.

On 11 September, she wrote: "In Chechnya the Kadyrovtsy [Mr Kadyrov's militia] beat men and women... and cut the throats of their enemies."

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