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Russian journalist is killed

Was harsh critic of Chechen war

MOSCOW -- A journalist who chronicled Russian military abuses against civilians in Chechnya, garnering awards and accolades from around the world, was found shot to death yesterday in her apartment building. Prosecutors suspect her killing could be connected to her investigative reporting.

Anna Politkovskaya, 48, was found dead in an elevator in the building in central Moscow, police, prosecutors, and a colleague said.

Prosecutors have opened a murder investigation, said Svetlana Petrenko, spokeswoman for the Moscow prosecutor's office. Investigators suspect the killing could be linked to her work, Vyacheslav Rosinsky, Moscow's first deputy prosecutor, said on state-run Rossiya television.

Rosinsky said a pistol and bullets were found at the site of the crime. The RIA-Novosti news agency, citing police officials, reported that Politkovskaya was shot twice, the second time in the head.

The ITAR-Tass news agency reported that work was underway on a composite sketch of the attacker based on footage recorded by a security camera at the building. The assailant, believed to have acted alone, wore black.

Politkovskaya, who wrote for the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, chronicled the killings, tortures, and beatings of civilians by Russian servicemen in Chechnya in reports that put her on a collision course with the authorities, but won her numerous international awards.

``People sometimes pay with their lives for saying out loud what they think. People can even get killed just for giving me information," Reporters Without Borders quoted her as saying at a press freedom conference in Vienna in December.

She also wrote a book critical of President Vladimir Putin of Russia and his military campaign in Chechnya, documenting widespread abuse of civilians by government troops.

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