Intl. Notebook | Politique Diabolique Feb 19 2009
ANNA & THE KING
Politkovskaya murder trial ends in acquittal.

In Russia, everything seems to have a spy movie twist. Today, the convoluted murder trial of slain journalist Anna Politkovskaya ended in acquittals for four defendants. Politkovskaya, a fierce critic of the Kremlin, was shot dead in her Moscow apartment building on 7 October, 2006. The killer was believed to be Chechen national Rustam Makhmudov, but he escaped Russia using a fake passport, leaving his two brothers Ibragim and Dzhabrail to stand trial along with two others on charges that they aided and abetted the killing.

But the prosecution case fell apart after a series of suspicious events, including the disappearance from evidence lockers of SIM cards, computer discs, and a surveillance recording purported to show the killer entering Politkovskaya’s flat. However, the case against the Makhmudovs and other two defendants was generally considered to be weak, with or without the stolen evidence. Prosecution lawyers claim this is because the key players are not the men on trial, but highly-placed political figures Politkovskaya often slammed in her articles.

Many suspect the villain may be Ramzan Kadyrov, the pro-Kremlin ruler of Chechnya, who was a frequent Politkovskaya target. Kadyrov is right out of a Bond movie. Sometimes referred to as the Idi Amin of the Caucasus, he rules Chechnya like a king and has a private army known as Kadyrovites who are documentably responsible for numerous crimes, including beatings, torture sessions, and one decapitation complete with a public display of the severed head. Asked about his possible involvement in Anna Politkovskaya’s murder, Ramzan Kadyrov asserted: “I don't kill women.”

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
February 28
1953—Watson and Crick Unravel DNA
American biologists James D. Watson and Francis Crick tell their friends that they have determined the chemical structure of DNA. The formal announcement takes place in April following publication in Nature magazine. In 1968, Watson writes The Double Helix, a non-fiction account of not only the discovery of the structure of DNA, but the personalities, conflicts and controversy surrounding the work.
February 27
1922—Challenge to Women's Voting Rights Rebuffed
In the United States, a conservative legal challenge to the nineteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishing voting rights for women is rebuffed by the Supreme Court in Leser v. Garnett. The challenge was based partly on the idea of individual "states rights" to self determination. The failure of such reasoning as it applied to basic human rights created a framework for later states rights losses involving the denial of voting rights to African-Americans.
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