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EU: Prosecute reporter's killer

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LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Moscow's credibility is on the line over its ability to prosecute those responsible for the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Sunday.

Politkovskaya, an ardent critic of Putin and of Kremlin policies in Chechnya, was shot on the staircase of her apartment building on October 7.

Investigators say her murder was linked to her reporting and her supporters said it showed Russia was failing to safeguard free speech.

Barroso said he would raise Politkovskaya's murder with Russian President Vladimir Putin in person, adding he would be "frank" in his discussions.

"We want those who have assassinated Mrs. Politkovskaya, great fighter for freedom of expression, we want them to be brought to justice," Barroso told BBC Television.

"It is a question of credibility of the Russian government and Russian authorities to show they are able to bring to justice those who make those hideous crimes," he added.

Barroso said the European Union wanted close ties with Russia and that he believed it was in Moscow's interests to keep close relations with an expanding and increasingly influential EU.

"After this enlargement to Bulgaria and Romania (the EU) will be half a billion people, the biggest trade bloc in the world ... size matters," he added.

Politkovskaya's murder drew international condemnation. It also re-focused attention on Chechnya, where human rights groups say Russian forces and their local allies are conducting a campaign of indiscriminate violence under the cover of fighting an anti-Moscow insurgency.

Copyright 2006 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


People pay their last respects to Anna Politkovskaya during a funeral ceremony in Moscow.



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