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.
January 27
1967—Apollo Fire Kills Three Astronauts
Astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee are killed in a fire during a test of the Apollo 1 spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Although the ignition source of the fire is never conclusively identified, the astronauts' deaths are attributed to a wide range of design hazards in the early Apollo command module, including the use of a high-pressure 100 percent-oxygen atmosphere for the test, wiring and plumbing flaws, flammable materials in the cockpit, an inward-opening hatch, and the flight suits worn by the astronauts.
January 26
1924—St. Petersburg is renamed Leningrad
St. Peterburg, the Russian city founded by Peter the Great in 1703, and which was capital of the Russian Empire for more than 200 years, is renamed Leningrad three days after the death of Vladimir Lenin. The city had already been renamed Petrograd in 1914. It was finally given back its original name St. Petersburg in 1991.
1966—Beaumont Children Disappear
In Australia, siblings Jane Nartare Beaumont, Arnna Kathleen Beaumont, and Grant Ellis Beaumont, aged 9, 7, and 4, disappear from Glenelg Beach near Adelaide, and are never seen again. Witnesses claim to have spotted them in the company of a tall, blonde man, but over the years, after interviewing many potential suspects, police are unable generate enough solid leads to result in an arrest. The disappearances remain Australia's most infamous cold case.
January 25
1949—First Emmy Awards Are Presented
At the Hollywood Athletic Club in Los Angeles, California, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences presents the first Emmy Awards. The name Emmy was chosen as a feminization of "immy", a nickname used for the image orthicon tubes that were common in early television cameras.
1971—Manson Family Found Guilty
Charles Manson and three female members of his "family" are found guilty of the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders, which Manson orchestrated in hopes of bringing about Helter Skelter, an apocalyptic war he believed would arise between blacks and whites.
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